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FRQM THE LIBRARY OF 

TR(N[ITY COLLEGE 






HARRIET STARR CANNON 





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Ibarriet Start Cannon 



FIRST MOTHER SUPERIOR 



OF THE 



SISTERHOOD OF ST. MARY 



A BRIEF MEMOIR BY 

MORGAN DIX 

SOMETIME PASTOR OF THE COMMUNITY 



TRINITY MISSION HOUSE 



NEW YORK 

LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO. 

LONDON AND BOMBAY 
1896 



Copyright, 1896 
BY MORGAN Dix 



HAY 6 1993 

tTbe Knickerbocker press, Hevt L orh 



TO 
THE SISTERS OF SAINT MARY 

IS REVERENTLY AND AFFECTIONATELY INSCRIBED 
THIS MEMORIAL OF 

THEIR DEARLY BELOVED 

WHO NOW 

WALKS BEFORE GOD IN THE LAND OF 
THE LIVING 



1435 







I 



I. 

PREUJDE. 

OF all the views on the line of the Hudson 
River, none, perhaps, is more striking 
than that presented at the point where 
the stream, escaping from the compression of 
the Highlands, expands into the broad inland 
lake known from old time as the Tappan Sea. 
Through the mountain range, cloven ages ago by 
some vast glacial movement or convulsion of 
nature, the impatient waters have forced a pas 
sage, until, as if with a sensation of relief, they 
pour down upon the level land, catching, perhaps, 
the first sound of welcome from the ocean towards 
which they now draw rapidly and joyously for 
ward. The scene at the point referred to arrests 
and charms the eye. On the right hand, like an 
outer bastion, stands a great round- topped moun 
tain ; to the left, where the shore is indented by a 
deeply recessed bay, appears the village of Peeks- 



2 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

kill shut in by defending hills. The ridge to the 
north of that village lifts a dense foliage into the 
air ; and above the masses of maples, cedars, and 
chestnuts, may be descried what seems to be the 
bell tower of some church or chapel hidden from 
sight and crowning the plateau. The structure 
to which the tower belongs, and whatever other 
buildings may be there, remain invisible until the 
traveller has climbed the heights on which they 
stand, and passed through a wide gateway into an 
enclosure of some fifty or sixty acres presenting 
as he advances one object after another apt to 
fix the attention. A broad avenue commands 
the prospect over the low country, the valley in 
which the village stands, and the inland lake ; 
one building after another is reached and passed, 
until the chapel is disclosed to which the tower 
belongs. Built on the rock of the plateau, itself 
as it were a part of the ledge, it reminds one of 
the church at Assisi, having, like that, an upper 
and a lower church, the former spacious and of 
noble proportions, the latter a mortuary chapel, 
where the Offices of the Dead are statedly sung, 
and to which the bodies of the faithful departed 
are taken to await the time of burial. Beyond, 
as he advances, the traveller sees to the right 
buildings of large size, half hidden by the trees; 



PRELUDE. 3 

and, first, the school known as St. Gabriel s, from 
whose door it is probable that a troop of merry 
girls may come fluttering forth, taking their way 
to favourite woodland paths for recreation; still 
further appears the outline of the great Mother 
House of the Community of St. Mary, where dwell 
the head of the Order, some twenty Professed 
Sisters and Minors, and a score at least of Novices. 
If now the pilgrim to this home of religion, art, 
and letters, leaving the Chapel on his right hand, 
should walk some distance northward, he will 
come to a level field, or dell, surrounded by rocky 
heights, the resting-place of some who have 
passed beyond these earthly lights and shadows. 
The grass-grown mounds which break the surface 
of the ground are without headstone, name, or 
inscription ; on each is a simple cross ; nothing 
indicates what traveller may here have reached 
the end of the journey, what weary frame is 
sleeping here in the peace of God ; nor need this 
be known, save to the Community, as one by 
one their dead are brought here to burial.* But 

* Since writing this paragraph, I am informed that 
Mr. Le Grand Cannon of New York has made arrange 
ments to erect a cross in the cemetery at St. Gabriel s, 
as a memorial to his kinswoman, to bear her name and 
an appropriate inscription. 



4 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

it may be questioned whether anywhere else on 
earth a deeper impression of the restfulness of 
holy death is made upon the thoughtful observer. 
All is still; no sound of the outer world disturbs 
this repose ; the trees wave in the wind ; the cliffs 
look down upon the place; lights and shadows 
fall, in course, across it as days and nights come 
and go; a woodpath leading from the side of the 
convent passes on to a point whence may be seen 
the great river flowing steadily towards the sea; 
not far away is a grove of pines, where, of a sum 
mer evening, the wanderer may rest, and see 
beyond him the military camp-ground of the 
State, and hear at sunset the call of the bugle 
and the evening gun. The sleeping place, to 
which we now return, seems fitted above all 
others for the rest of those daughters of our 
I/ord, who having finished their course in faith, 
and having left there what of them could die, 
now expect the resurrection of the dead and the 
life of the world to come. It is not to be won 
dered at that, now and then, one trained at St. 
Gabriel s for her life work, and finding the end 
at hand in some far-off region, has longed for 
her own place among those sleepers, and asked, 
earnestly, that her body might be taken home and 
laid beside her sisters in the much-loved spot. 



PRELUDE. 5 

In that cemetery at St. Gabriel s, on the gth 
day of April, 1896, it being the Thursday in 
Easter week, there was committed to the ground 
the mortal body of one of the noblest and most 
remarkable women of our day ; a body once the 
earthly tabernacle of a vigorous mind, a clear 
intellect, a resolute will, and a great heart full 
of love to God and man. The world knows lit 
tle of her and cares less; her life work was not 
that which this generation applauds; the object 
for which she lived makes no appeal to the rest 
less spirits of our day ; but if ever God s work has 
been done well and faithfully it was so done by 
that active brain, that devoted heart, those hands 
that never tired, those feet which trod for forty 
years the path of close and closer walk with the 
I^ord. As if by His special and most gracious 
mandate, she was called out of this world on 
Easter Day ; at half-past three in the afternoon the 
exodus was made; four days later the precious 
body was committed to the ground, in the midst 
of those nearest and dearest to her on the earth, 
a great number of sisters, associates, priests, and 
devoted friends assisting at the solemn action. 
After the due performance of the Rites of the 
Church, in long procession, carried on the shoul 
ders of four priests, followed by her spiritual 



6 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

children, and by many clergy from our own and 
distant dioceses, she was borne to the grave. It 
was remarked, and none could fail to notice, that 
the season, which had been backward, seemed to 
have changed suddenly ; the voice of the spring 
tide and the first prophecy of summer were in the 
air ; the sun shone brilliantly on the little proces 
sion; light breezes stirred the trees; and, for the 
first time that year, the birds began to sing, as if 
joyfully praising the IvOrd. Unseen forms must 
have been also in attendance; visitants from an 
other realm, to whose presence may have been 
due some of that impression of awe and wonder 
with which we withdrew from the scene. 

And now that all is over on this side, and now 
that she has been received out of our sight, it 
has been felt that some memorial, some written 
record, should be prepared of greater length 
than those which have already appeared in the 
journals of the day, commemorative of that life. 
This seems desirable for many reasons ; as a trib 
ute to the woman who was with us once as a 
burning and a shining light; as a statement of the 
motives of her action during a long and memor 
able life; as a record of the results of the indomi 
table energy with which she wrought, and the 
reward of patience and faith conceded to her lov- 



PRELUDE. 7 

Ing service ; as a history of the varied experience, 
through which, in evil report and good report, in 
reproaches, misunderstandings, and opposition, 
she steadily pursued her way ; as a gift to those of 
the Community founded by her, which may serve 
for reminder, encouragement, and warning, as 
they carry on the work which throve so wonder 
fully under wise and strong leadership, and now 
devolves on them the weight of an unspeakably 
grave responsibility. Such purposes might a me 
moir serve which was all that it should be; there 
fore the writer could wish that the task of preparing 
it had been laid on some one more worthy than 
he. There are men and women in the Church 
far better fitted for this undertaking, though in 
one point he yields to none of them; in his devo 
tion to that blessed memory, his appreciation of 
that mission of which she was the apostle, his pro 
found reverence for the manner in which her work 
was accomplished, his earnest desire that every 
thought of hers respecting it may be fulfilled. It 
is nearly a quarter of a century since, as Pastor 
of the Sisterhood of St. Mary, he knew, in the 
sacred intimacy of the priestly office, all that 
its Superior was planning, desiring, suffering. 
Others, since that distant day, have done the 
work which he was compelled to lay down, but 



8 



MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 



the afterglow is bright on the skies behind us, and 
through that light it may be given him to write 
down something apt to help and teach, to remind 
those who were then her companions, to help 
those who shall come after. 



" So be it: there no shade can last 
In that deep dawn beyond the tomb : 
And bright from marge to marge shall bloom 
The eternal landscape of the past." 

We move, like shadows, between a past full of 
visions and dreams of good, and a future where in 
substance these visions and dreams are to turn to 
unchanging realities in the heavenly city. 



II. 

BIRTH AND EARLY YEARS. 

SO now let us take our work in hand, and 
show what God wrought, in one conse 
crated life, in those seventy-four years, 
between 1822 and 1896. What years they have 
been, whether we look upon them from the secu 
lar side or from the precincts of the Kingdom of 
Heaven ! How strong the contrast between the 
action of the Spirit of God in souls and hearts 
reverent of the truth, and aiming at union with 
Him and fulfilment of His will, and the working 
of the Spirit of the Age, in souls equally in ear 
nest but misled by the chimeras of the day and 
dreaming of progress apart from religion! We 
have seen, and are now seeing, strange sights ; 
revolts and revolutions, the phantasmagoria of 
experiment, the agitation caused by morbidly 
sensitive and nervous men and women, crazed by 
excitement, and stimulated by the wish for the 
9 



IO MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

impossible : and this we recognize as the work of 
the Zeit Geist. On the other hand we see a revi 
val of the life hidden with Christ in God: fruits 
of divine charity; building on a sure foundation; 
help meet for a world which lives in God and can 
not get away from God : plainly the work of that 
Lord whom it is light and joy to follow and sin 
unpardonable to reject and deny. My story is 
that of a woman s life, led in the grace of the 
Gospel, and growing from more to more ; a woman 
who turned her talents to account for the Master 
of the house ; who exalted the ideal of true woman 
hood; who saw, first and always, the overruling 
Providence which guides the course of time, who 
was reverent of the Supernatural, and strong in 
that faith which is the substance of things hoped 
for, the evidence of things not seen. Had it been 
possible for such a thought to pass through her 
humble mind, she might have appropriated to 
herself the saying of the Ever Blessed, For He 
that is mighty hath magnified me : and holy is 
His Name." 

My story begins with that of the Cannon family, 
of which the progenitor emigrated from France 
early in the iyth century. The Cannons were a 
family of rank and wealth, Huguenots by religion, 
and, for that reason, refugees; passing first into 



BIRTH AND EARLY YEARS. II 

Holland, thence to England, and thence to the 
Colony of New Netherland, into which they came 
about the year 1632. We have few details of their 
history for the first fifty years; no record can be 
traced of births and deaths, but if tradition may 
be trusted they held a high social position in the 
town and province. The first authentic record 
brings before us John Cannon, then known as 
"Jean Canon," a merchant in the city of New 
York in 1693. In 1697 ne married Marie I^e 
Grand, daughter of Pierre Le Grand; he resided 
in Pearl St. between State and Whitehall Sts., 
and carried on a large and prosperous business 
until 1 720, when he was succeeded by his son John. 
Le Grand Cannon, son of John, and grandson of 
the first John Cannon, a distinguished man of his 
day, resided for many years in Stratford, Conn., 
and died there in 1789. Further information on 
the subject of this family may be found in the 
New York Biographical and Genealogical Regis 
ter, in Orcutt s work on Stratford, and in Valen 
tine s Manual of the Common Council of New 
York for 1864, in which latter work, in a list of 
baptisms in the Dutch Church, 1697 to 1720, ap 
pear the names of several children of John (or 
Jan) Cannon. The names of Pintard and Scher- 
merhorn also occur in this large connection. I 



12 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

have before me a drawing of the family coat-of- 
arms; the field has a figure of an artilleryman, in 
the costume of 150 years ago, applying a lighted 
fuse to an equally old-fashioned gun ; for a motto, 
the words, Firmior quo Paratior. An old family 
Bible containing records of the Cannon family 
was long in the possession of the late Reverend 
Mother Superior; she sent it, in 1892, to her kins 
man I^e Grand B. Cannon, Bsq., of 311 Fifth 
Avenue, New York. From a letter of his, ac 
knowledging the gift, I am permitted to make the 
following extract: 

" I duly received this morning (Dec. 15, 1892) 
your kind note announcing your Xmas present, 
and by special messenger your gift of the Old 
Family Bible, and also your photograph and Dr. 
Dix s letter. 

I greatly prize the gift, as quite independent 
of its antiquity and family associations, the im 
pulse which governed you in making me its 
inheritor and possessor enhances the value of 
the gift ; and for all this you have my earnest 
thanks. 

The condition that your own mortuary shall 
be the last record in the Bible will be observed if 
I survive, or the obligation transmitted to my 
son." 

In the early part of this century in the city of 
Charleston, South Carolina, lived William Can- 



BIRTH AND EARLY YEARS. 13 

non and Sally his wife. Mr. Cannon was the son 
of !Lewis I^e Grand Cannon; his wife, Sally Hin- 
man, was the youngest daughter of Isaac Hinman. 
Two daughters were born to them, Catharine 
Ann, Sept. 23, 1821, and Harriet Starr, May 7, 

1823. On or about the 24th day of November, 

1824, both parents died at Charleston, of yellow 
fever, leaving the little girls helpless and all but 
alone among strangers. Fortunately, Capt. James 
Allen, brother-in-law of Mrs. Cannon, arrived in 
the port of Charleston about that time, on a trad 
ing voyage in his own sailing packet ; having been 
advised of what had occurred, he found the chil 
dren, living, but divested of everything that they 
possessed, and in a position of great danger. 
They were taken at once on board the vessel, 
and brought to Bridgeport, Conn., where they 
were gladly received by Mrs. Fowler, their aunt, 
a sister of their mother s, and taken to that home 
which was thenceforth theirs until they attained 
to womanhood. 

The children received a good education, and 
were carefully brought up. Their attachment to 
each other appears to have been singularly strong 
and devoted. Harriet is described as a girl of 
lovable disposition, and attractive and charming 
manners, a general favourite, always bright and 



14 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

cheerful, making every place happy in which she 
appeared. She was a proficient in music, and 
gave lessons in that art to the children of her rela 
tives and friends. 

Time passed on; and in 1851 the elder sister 
Catharine was married to Mr. John Ruggles, and 
went out to California, to make her home on the 
Pacific coast. Her one desire appears to have 
been that Harriet, her beloved sister, should be 
with her; arrangements to that end were made, 
and all was ready when, only a week before her 
departure for the West, the fatal tidings came that 
Mrs. Ruggles was dead. This was in 1855. The 
blow overwhelmed the survivor of that devoted 
pair. It formed the crisis of her life. Left, as 
she felt herself to be, alone, her purposes de 
feated, her plans broken off, and herself free to 
take her own course in the world, she little knew 
that God, in the mysterious order of His Provi 
dence, was drawing her away from earthly ties, 
and nearer to Himself. Vocations are determined 
in many and diverse ways. Some go to God, 
from the unclouded brightness of happy morning 
hours ; some through the heavy shadow of sor 
row; some after bitter trial of the instability of 
temporal things, and some without one painful 
memory to darken the retrospect. In this case it 



BIRTH AND EARLY YEARS. 1 5 

was intense sorrow which prompted action. The 
penumbra of that sorrow lay, for many years, upon 
the chastened soul. In a letter written thirty-one 
years afterwards, she recurs most touchingly to 
her bereavement. Writing from St. Gabriel s, 
June 28, 1886, to one of the Community, she 
says : 



" I have your plaintive letter; and I feel that I 
know it all, that I understand it all ; at the same 
time I know that you are ready to learn the les 
son God would have you to learn; that He has 
given the loneliness only that He may fill the void 
with a double portion of His Spirit. I can look 
back to one period of my life when I scarcely 
knew whether the sun rose or the sun set ; when 
for days there seemed to be no one in the world 
but myself. That time was, when God took to 
Himself my only sister, whom I loved with a love 
which words can hardly express, for she was my 
all. Having neither father nor mother nor 
brother, we were almost like one person. God 
had a purpose for me. Had she lived, I doubt if 
I could have had the courage to respond to His 
purpose. God in His good time will show you 
too what He would have you to do and to be, be 
cause of this voice." 



In another letter she refers to the same subject, 
as dwelling on a life-long and vivid memory. 



l6 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

" Aug. 12, 1887. 
My dearest Sister: 

" A thousand thanks for your dear note. The 
day it reached me I was thinking of the events of 
fifty years ago, events brought to my mind by an 
invitation to be present at a Golden Wedding. 
I remembered (I was just fourteen then) how I 
stood in a certain spot to witness the marriage 
ceremony. Oh how little do we know what our 
lives are to be ! We plan for one manner of life, 
while God plans for us altogether another plan of 
life. It is a great rest to me never to have doubted 
His will in my regard. It cannot be long now 
before I shall go to Him, before I shall see Him 
as He is. 

Ever lovingly yours, 

" THE MOTHER." 



It may be inferred from these letters that some 
thought of a dedication of her life to the immedi 
ate service of God had been in the heart of this 
young girl; an idea yet crude, an immature pur 
pose. But the crushing sorrow cleared up the 
matter; she saw her way, she took her course; 
she held it thenceforth, steadfastly, step by step, 
as the Spirit led on, even unto the end. 

Assured, now, that the Lord had called her, she 
began to look about and consider how and where 
to find the means of obeying that summons. And 
here, in the record of her life, we come upon the 



BIRTH AND EARLY YEARS. \J 

figures of a man and a woman, noted in their day, 
who helped her, and left the impress of their in 
fluence upon her career. Let us turn to them, 
and see how the strands of those three life his 
tories were woven together, and how, later on, 
these faithful servants of the Master drifted apart, 
when the Divine purpose had been fulfilled. 



III. 



FIRST ESSAY IN A SISTER S LIFE. 

AT the time of which I write the Church of 
the Holy Communion, on Sixth Avenue 
and Twentieth St. , was one of the most 
important centres of Church work in the City of 
New York. Its Pastor was William Augustus 
Muhlenberg, of blessed memory, one of the great 
powers of his day. Dr. Muhlenberg may be said 
to have had at heart two things above all others : 
the extension of charitable work among the poor, 
and the restoration of visible unity among the 
Christian bodies around us and their unification 
in one Catholic Church. He was the founder of 
St. I/uke s Hospital, a magnificent monument to 
his memory, an institution which will be, to the 
end of time, associated with his name. The 
Church of which he was the Pastor, and which 
was built for him, was regarded, at that time, or 
rather somewhat before that time, with the same 

18 



FIRST ESSAY IN A SISTER S LIFE. 19 

apprehension with which people now look upon 
the ritualistic churches of our day ; it was the 
advanced parish of the moment. Dr. Muh- 
lenberg loved the beautiful in the externals of 
religion ; music, architecture, ceremonial, and all 
that makes divine worship impressive. I have 
heard old men who were scholars of his at College 
Point long before he came to New York, describe 
the services in the chapel at that place, and tell 
how they used to hold their Christmas Matins at 
early dawn, the place fragrant with incense, the 
picture of the Madonna and Child above the altar 
decorated with flowers, and the service sung, with 
carol and chant, in Latin.* There was much in 
all this to attract, delight, fascinate the ardent 
souls of the young, who no doubt imagined be 
neath this exterior some things which did not 
exist. For to say that Dr. Muhlenberg had his 
limitations is to say what might be said of most 
great and holy men. His theology was rather 
of the Lutheran than the Anglican type. In 
his devotion to the cause of Christian unity he 
might perhaps have taken down some defences 
which to others appear necessary to the safety of 

* On the ritualism and services in the school, see " The 
Life of Dr. Muhlenberg," by Miss Anne Ayres, pages 18, 
148. 



20 



MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 



our own Church. Beautiful as was the order of 
the services, he stopped short of the sacramental 
system as taught by the Oxford school; and he 
had no sympathy with views in advance of the 
point which he had reached in working out his 
own parochial, liturgical, and charitable ideal. 
I do not write this in disparagement of that noble 
soul, that great heart, but because the fact has a 
bearing on the story which I am telling, which 
will presently appear. 

It was fitting and right for an ardent nature, 
filled with love for God and man, and seeking the 
way of complete dedication to our Lord, to turn 
to William Augustus Muhlenberg as the one who 
might be supposed to know more about the ways 
and means thereto than any other man. It was, 
above all, natural for a woman like Harriet Starr 
Cannon to look to him, because he had already 
taken a new departure in the line of woman s 
work in the Church. It was a part of the original 
scheme of St. Luke s Hospital, that the sick in its 
wards should be nursed by women consecrated by 
a religious motive and special obligations to the 
performance of that duty. Another jewel in the 
crown of that good man was that he gave the first 
impetus to the cause of Sisterhoods in our Church. 
He had already organized a little band of women 



FIRST ESSAY IN A SISTER S LIFE. 21 

for that purpose : regardless of the fears and 
prejudices of the time, he had boldly called them 
by the title of Sisters : the " Sisterhood of the 
Holy Communion. As the work of the Hospital 
grew, recruits for these nursing sisters, or as we 
should now style them, Hospital Nurses, were in 
demand ; and devout women were readily and 
gladly admitted to the number. The principal 
spirit in this little band was Anne Ayres, Sister 
Anne, as she was called, a woman as remarkable 
in her way as the Pastor of the Holy Communion 
in his. Here then were all that Harriet Cannon 
needed : a place in the Church, a work to do 
among the poor and needy; the supervision of a 
spiritual father ; the help and animating influence 
of a woman of undoubted sanctity and larger ex 
perience, as guide to the higher life. She made 
application and was kindly received. After some 
test she was enrolled in the Sisterhood : she writes 
(Feby. 7, 1888): 



" Yesterday was the 6th of February; the 6th 
of February, 1856, was also Ash Wednesday. On 
that day I was received as a candidate for the Sis 
terhood of the Holy Communion, in the Oratory 
of the Sisters House and by Dr. Muhlenberg; 
just 32 years ago, and I was then thirty-two years 
old." 



22 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

On the Feast of the Purification, Feby. 2, 1857, 
she was admitted into full membership, in the 
new Sisterhood, and there, in the parish and in 
St. Luke s Hospital, she worked assiduously and 
lovingly for nearly seven years.* 

The years thus spent brought practice and ex 
perience ; they brought something else, the im 
pression, dawning dimly, growing slowly, but 
attaining finally to full conviction, that what Sis 
ter Harriet wanted she had not found, and was 
not in the way to find. She had, no doubt, from 
the first her own ideal of life work ; it could not 
be realized in the position in which she now found 

* The following incident is related by Anne Ayres in 
the Life of Dr. Muhlenberg : it occurred in the Infirmary 
connected with the Church of the Holy Communion, 
when a malignant contagious disease had gained a foot 
hold there : referring to Dr. Muhlenberg s frequent visits 
to the ward, she goes on to say : 

" On one of these occasions he found a young proba 
tionary Sister, rocking, as he lay wrapped in a blanket 
within her arms, a little boy very ill with the loathsome 
disease. She was singing a hymn for him, and the poor 
child smiled as he looked up to her face, and forgot his 
pain and restlessness. Dr. Muhlenberg came down from 
the ward enamoured of the picture The very ideal of a 
Sister of Charity. It was Sister Harriet." (See p. 276 
of the "Life.") 



FIRST ESSAY IN A SISTER S LIFE. 2$ 

herself. The works of Christian charity do not 
lie on the same level, there are grades in that de 
partment of human activity as in all others ; 
ruder forms, and complete organisms towards 
which the lower naturally lead the way. From 
the woman of the world, who gives what of 
time she can spare from its pressing demands to 
some benevolent institution or charitable society; 
thence to the Bible reader or parish visitor, who, 
living on her modest little salary, devotes so many 
hours per diem to looking up and ministering to 
the poor of her district ; and on to the Deaconess, 
or member of the parochial Sisterhood who serves 
with a fuller consecration and yet with reserva 
tions ; step by step may women pass till they 
reach a point of unreserved surrender when the 
world and its concerns are left behind as com 
pletely as though they were dead to it and it was 
dead to them. Such progress will be accounted 
legitimate by the wise ; each grade has its own 
grace and merit ; yet some are lower and some 
higher ; there are here, as elsewhere, a first and a 
last. The highest point of all was that at which 
Sister Harriet was aiming ; like a dream of good 
it possessed her mind and soul. The idea of a life 
of complete and unconditional surrender to our 
I,ord, led by a number of women in community, 



24 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

bound to God by vow, and to each other by a Rule, 
forming a family and a household, governing 
themselves, under the sanction of Church author 
ity but holding no allegiance to earthly master, 
board, or trustee, or to any other but the Sov 
ereign Himself ; realised in institutions for carry 
ing on all works of mercy that woman can do, and 
living a retired, sacramental life, in abstinence, 
discipline, prayer, and constant worship : this was 
the end of aspirations and desires which noth 
ing less could satisfy and fill. Already such 
organizations could be seen, in England ; the 
great and growing communities at Clewer, East 
Grinstead, and elsewhere ; the thing was no 
dream but an accomplished fact ; why should not 
fruits of faith like these grow on our American 
vine ? That this ideal was not to be realized 
where she was, became year after year distinctly 
evident. Not that a person was wanting to lead 
such a movement. The remarkable woman who 
was known as First Sister in the Sisterhood 
of the Holy Communion had the qualities which 
fit for headship ; she might have made an Abbess, 
with iron will and hand. But Sister Anne Ayres 
had also her limitations ; her sympathies were not 
with those who desired to reproduce the Angli 
can, or, let us say, the Catholic, type of the Re- 



FIRST ESSAY IN A SISTEK S LIFE. 2$ 

ligious Community in this country and in our 
Church : her ideal of woman s work was of a less 
pronounced and more free type. In this respect 
also she was in accord with the man whom she 
venerated above all others in this world. Read 
ing what she has written, we see the perfect har 
mony, the singular unity in view, opinion, and 
mode of action, between the head of the Sister 
hood and the venerable priest who had founded 
it.* The Sisterhood of the Holy Communion, if 
it was to continue and grow, must grow on lines 
which they approved ; no one could serve there 
unless in accord with the two who had begun and 
would direct the movement. This was the posi 
tion in which certain ladies found themselves who 
had joined it with different aspirations : they saw 
themselves barred out from the hope of realizing 

* The views of Dr. Muhlenberg on the subject of Sister 
hoods are given fully, and, I doubt not, with perfect 
correctness, in the very interesting volume entitled " The 
I/ife and Works of William Augustus Muhlenberg," 
by Anne Ayres. (New York, Harper & Brothers, 1880.) 
It seems that he approved of them, " not as ecclesiastical 
organizations but as simple evangelical associations"; 
he thought that they ought not to exist as corporations 
in the legal sense of the term, nor to have a central gov 
ernment, nor to be bound by any vow or rule, nor ever 
to hold property in their own right. (See page 251 et seq.) 



26 



MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 



what was to them the complete ideal of the Relig 
ious Life. They came to that conclusion in great 
sorrow and distress; but they came to it as one 
which was inevitable. Watching them, at that 
moment, we sympathize with their discomfiture: 
we do more ; we feel, that as there are many 
operations of the same Spirit, so it must be, in this 
world, that some are called to work on one line 
and some another. I will venture another sug 
gestion. No society is patient of two very strong 
and very positive heads. It is impossible to im 
agine the woman whose career we are consider 
ing as passing her life as a hospital nurse, or 
a semi-detached deaconess ; she had abilities, 
powers, a mind, a will, marking her out for 
larger things : she was called of God to greater 
work. One cannot imagine two such strong char 
acters as Sister Anne Ayres and Sister Harriet 
Cannon dwelling together harmoniously in the 
somewhat indefinite relation of a parochial soci 
ety. It was inevitable, it was for the best, that 
they should part, each taking her own way ac 
cording to her conscience and her light. 

There were other women in the same position 
as Sister Harriet; women moved by the same de 
sire of consecrating themselves in the true Relig 
ious I<ife; women who had been attracted to the 



FIRST ESSA Y IN A SISTER S LIFE. 2J 

work of St. Luke s Hospital and had come to join 
the labourers there. Such as these had every 
facility for working among God s poor, where they 
were ; but beyond lay something which they per 
ceived that they could not attain. They had been 
drawn into a position from which they must retire; 
the alternative being to remain at the sacrifice of 
the promptings of conscience, the strong desire 
for an advance, and the mature conviction of their 
enlightened understanding. 

The end came in the year 1863. Some troubles 
which had existed for a considerable time then 
came to an issue, and the First Sister resigned. 
She appears to have done so because she thought 
that her ideas in regard to governing the other 
Sisters were not approved by most of them. She 
said to one of them, who recorded her words at 
the time: " There were only two things for me to 
do either to rule with greater strictness than be 
fore, or to withdraw. I chose the latter course." 
Her companions, distressed at her action, refused 
to accept her resignation ; but Dr. Muhlenberg, 
to whom the matter had been referred, gave sen 
tence that the Sisterhood had been dissolved by 
the withdrawal of its head, and proposed that its 
members should now form themselves into " a 
Company of Christian Ladies, and work under 



28 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

Miss Ayres as Matron of the Hospital." Four 
of the little band found themselves more closely 
united than ever by this action, and more ear 
nestly resolved to find the way to the goal which 
they were seeking. In sorrow they relinquished 
the work in which they had been happy and hope 
ful, and went back to their own homes ; not aban 
doning their faith in the Religious Life and their 
longing for it, but not knowing how, or when, or 
where they were to attain the desire of their soul. 
They went out not knowing whither they went, 
but strong in faith in Him who is invisible. 

The sorrows and disappointments of that day 
belong to a distant era, and the grave has closed 
over nearly all the actors in that little drama. 
But Christian charity soon healed the wounds, of 
which not even scars remain. All was of God. 
Sister Harriet spoke often and with interest of 
her apprenticeship served in the Sisterhood of the 
Holy Communion ; reverently and affectionately 
of its saintly founder and its first head. She was 
one of those who cling to early friends; never 
have I heard from her one word of criticism or 
unkindly comment on those with whom she first 
trod the way of the Cross. When Sister Anne, 
after many years spent in seclusion, was called to 
her rest, the Superior of the Sisterhood of St. 



FIRST ESSAY IN A SISTER S LIFE. 2$ 

Mary was among those who stood nearest to her 
bier, and watched with full and tender hearts the 
committal of dust to dust. Blessed are the dead 
who die in the lyord: Even so, saith the Spirit." 



IV. 



THE HOUSE OF MERCY. 

THERE are men who are helps, and men who 
are hindrances, at the turning points of 
life. It was fortunate for those three or 
four women, anxious, depressed, uncertain what 
to do, that they had a friend in the great bishop, 
Horatio Potter, who at that time was over us in 
the Diocese of New York. He heard of what had 
taken place, and came to the aid of the refugees, 
with the offer of a work in which they might at 
once engage. The House of Mercy had been 
founded by Mrs. William Richmond, as a reform 
atory for fallen women. She was a woman of 
indomitable energy, with an enviable faculty for 
obtaining money for carrying such projects into 
effect; and she had acquired, for the purposes of 
her work, the fine old Howland mansion, which 
stood at the foot of 86th Street on what is now the 
Riverside Drive. This property, including the 
30 



THE HOUSE OF MERCY. 31 

large house and some twelve city lots, was held 
for her by trustees ; a very valuable purchase ; 
and there some forty or fifty unfortunates, for 
the most part young, were housed and cared for, 
in the hope of converting them from the path of 
sin and bringing them home by the way of peni 
tence, to the great Shepherd of souls. But Mrs. 
Richmond, incessantly engaged in raising the 
means to carry on the institution, and most of the 
time absent, could give no attention to the task 
of ruling and directing a class so turbulent and 
desperate as that within the high enclosures of 
the House of Mercy, where, indeed, things were 
in a state of confusion. The Bishop of New 
York, deeply interested in the work, and perceiv 
ing the need of able and competent governors of 
those wild waifs of civilization, bethought him of 
the three or four women who, having been trained 
in St. Luke s Hospital, and being then desirous 
of an opportunity to resume their labours in some 
mission field, might be open to a call to that hard 
and delicate service. The result was an invita 
tion to take charge of the House of Mercy ; its 
glad acceptance ; and the prompt appearance of 
Sister Harriet and her companions at the institu 
tion. In all this they were cordially welcomed 
and aided by the noble-minded foundress of the 
House. This was in September, 1863. 



32 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

When the Sisters took charge of the House of 
Mercy, they were desperately poor : the sum 
allowed to each of them for their support, from 
the common fund, was only eight cents per diem. 
The work was difficult and trying; it had, how 
ever, a comical as well as a serious side. The 
Howland mansion, like old-fashioned dwellings 
of an earlier age, was one of those which ghosts 
might haunt and in which strange sights might 
appear. From the entrance, flanked with lofty 
columns, one entered a very large hall, sur 
rounded by rooms of proportionate size, used as 
parlors, reception-rooms, dining-room, etc. Out 
of the hall a broad staircase led to the stories 
above. One of the rooms on the hall floor was 
turned into a chapel. As the day went away, 
the old place took on a shadowy and weird look. 
Among the rooms were some which could be lit 
up only by the help of candles ; dark shadows hid 
much from view ; children could have found no 
better place for hide-and-go-seek; uncomfortable 
sensations were not wanting ; the occasional rat 
might go scooting boldly from one dark corner to 
another. In this old-fashioned place Mrs. Rich 
mond had collected a considerable number of girls 
from the streets of New York. They were wild 
as hawks, impatient of constraint, often danger- 



THE HOUSE OF MERCY. 33 

cms, and always planning the means of escape. 
Such was the place, and such the charge of which 
these women had undertaken the interior govern 
ment. In a very short time results began to 
appear. Strong hands, loving hearts, compas 
sionate souls took up the case of these unfortu 
nates, in the Name of Christ ; under the influence 
of the new, and to them strange, power, the 
more violent spirits were curbed and refrained ; 
order began to take the place of disorder ; the 
acts of religion, if they did not yet avail to 
change the hearts, at least compelled a rever 
ence for holy things to which these unhappy 
creatures had been strangers. Nothing is so dis 
couraging as the work of reformation of fallen 
women ; evil passion were enough of itself to 
wreck the moral nature, but to this must be 
added the craving for strong drink which always 
accompanies lust ; until the physical system be 
comes impregnated with vile potations to such a 
degree that it seems next to impossible to revive 
the moribund powers of conscience and the wish 
for reform. In the noble army of Christian work 
ers, the honourable position of forlorn hope is held 
by those who labour for the reclamation of the 
fallen and lost. 

From one of those who went at that time to the 



34 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

House of Mercy, and worked there till transferred 
to another field, I recently received a pleasant ac 
count of the life of the Sisters at that place, and 
their varied difficulties in carrying out their trust. 
This I shall transcribe, as an original contribu 
tion to this history. It will be observed that she 
speaks of Sister Harriet as the Mother, though 
she had not then the title or the office. It will 
also be observed by what steps and by what judi 
cious measures the work was brought into shape. 
Some of these reminiscences relate to days much 
later than those of which I am writing; but they 
help to fill out the picture and inform the reader 
of the mode in which the reform proceeded. 



" The life of Mother Harriet at the House of 
Mercy was, from the beginning, marked by a 
strict devotion to duty. Her great kindness of 
heart, courtesy of manner, and good judgment 
led the rest of us to look to her for guidance in all 
matters of difficulty. Unfailing patience with the 
infirmities of others, and even with their serious 
faults, was one of her marked characteristics ; 
things should be set right rather than punished. 
She had that flexibility of character which 
smooths difficulties. The lovely traits of Mother 
Harriet s character were, perhaps, nowhere more 
apparent than at the House of Mercy. She pos 
sessed, as few do, the faculty of discovering what 
is best in every one and bringing out the bright 



THE HOUSE OF MERCY. 35 

side of every person with whom she came in con 
tact. She seldom found fault in words ; a dis 
pleased look and silence had oftentimes more 
effect than anything she could have said ; and the 
impression given was, I leave all entirely in 
God s hands. She was ready to measure the 
capabilities of those who with her were devoting 
their energies to the good of the unfortunate in 
mates in the House. What could each do to se 
cure the best results in the work ? This was to 
be tested. The Mother shrank from no work 
however menial that work might be. She showed 
that rare quality which was so evident in all her 
after life, of assigning to each one the work best 
fitted for her. Those who were with her well 
remember her industry. Great and absorbing as 
the mental work was, her hands were never idle. 
Her self-denying acceptance of the actual pov 
erty, which at first existed at the House of Mercy, 
when the Sisters were deprived of what are usu 
ally called the necessaries of life, and the unfail 
ing humor that enlivened those days of straitness 
and want, has formed the stock of many amusing 
stories related by the Sisters to those of subse 
quent times. A merry heart makes a continual 
feast ; it was indeed true of her. Her influence 
over the unfortunate inmates was very soon felt. 
Her unfailing amiability, her strong faith in the 
good in another s heart, in spite of the sin of 
which that heart may be guilty ; her winning sym 
pathy, her beautiful example of true devotion to 
her ever-present Ix>rd, could not fail to attract. 
Many of those whom she influenced in those early 
days, thirty years ago, have stood loyal to her 
through all the changes of their subsequent lives; 



36 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

and among the great number of persons who gath 
ered at her grave, it is joyous to think were some 
of those penitents, whom she had won for the 
Master s glory. 

Mother Harriet s poverty of spirit was always 
marked by her acceptance of what was inferior 
whenever a choice was given to her. It was 
touching to find after her death, that of the gar 
ments which came to hand to clothe her many 
were those of departed Sisters, which she had 
preferred to use instead of new ones. 

" It was our custom to hold three services, 
morning, noon, and evening; the last just before 
retiring. Mother Harriet, being passionately fond 
of music and possessing a beautiful voice, led the 
singing at these services, in which the girls 
heartily joined. 

1 The ringing of the chapel bell was the signal 
for the girls to run away ; among their various 
hiding-places, the cow-house (for in those days we 
kept a cow) was the place best adapted for that 
purpose. The Sisters would therefore be com 
pelled to start out in search of them and gather 
them into the chapel ; not succeeding in getting 
them altogether, they were brought in late one by 
one. The absence of a Sister from the chapel 
was the inevitable sign that she was looking up 
some runaway girl. When the girls were left 
alone they would delight in getting up the great 
est possible excitement to see what effect it would 
have upon the Sisters. 

" Having no chaplain at the House at first, we 
were dependent upon those who would come occa 
sionally, or else were obliged to take the girls out 
to service. On one of these occasions Bishop 



THE HOUSE OF MERCY. 37 

Coxe came, and, at his request, the household 
was gathered together and a brief service held ; it 
was a great comfort to the Sisters and an equally 
great help to the girls, and left a lasting im 
pression. 

" After the house was partly in order typhoid 
fever set in and six of the inmates were very seri 
ously ill. All, however, recovered. On our first 
Christmas (for we took charge in September) we 
had the blessed privilege of having an early cele 
bration, by the Rev. Dr. Charles Adams. That 
was one of the marked things to be thankful for, 
and we were thankful, too, for the recovery of our 
patients. 

" As the early spring and summer came we 
were able to give out-door pleasures to the girls, 
which helped them very much, for their confine 
ment in the House during the entire winter was a 
little irksome to them. 

In the early days of the Institution we did 
not know the best way to manage them. We 
gave ourselves more trouble and them more care 
than was really necessary. For instance, if any 
of the girls got away we would think it our duty 
to spend our time in search of them : entire days 
were spent by the Sisters in looking up a girl. 
Now, of course, it is quite different. We have 
only to send a description of the missing one to 
a police station, and she is very soon returned 
to us. 

" After a time the order of the House was 
changed and the girls were separated and classi 
fied. They were promoted, as in a school, from 
one class to another, as they merited it. After a 
time they became deeply interested in the teach- 



38 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

ing; they were particularly fond of one of the Sis 
ters, now departed ; she was of great service to 
them and had great success in taming and calm 
ing their unruly spirits. 

After a time it was thought best to seek some 
of the girls at the courts before they were com 
mitted to the Island, where the tendency was to 
sink lower and lower. Girls of the better class 
were met who would gladly commit themselves to 
the House of Mercy for two years or longer if nec 
essary, to fit themselves for a respectable life; and 
many of the most satisfactory cases brought to the 
House were self-committed. 

It was the aim of the Sisters to give religious 
instruction at night, reading and talking, so that 
they might go to bed with some serious impres 
sion in mind, to drive out whatever wayward 
thoughts they may have had during the day. 

" As the work went on, improvements were 
made, and means were freely given to the Sisters 
to enable them to carry out their plans for the 
good of the inmates. St. Mary Magdalene Day, 
the 22d of July, was looked forward to with 
pleasant anticipations. On that day they were 
taken for a drive; the carriages of Central Park, 
which held a considerable number, were engaged 
for the occasion and the day was spent pleasantly 
and happily by all. Their dinner was enlivened 
by ice-cream and a liberal amount of candy, and 
that day there was, above all, no work. How 
ever, the girls did not dislike to work. It was 
always the aim of the Sisters to bring out the en 
couraging and loving traits of Mary Magdalene 
and our Lord s deep compassion for that class, 
which had a great effect upon them. 



THE HOUSE OF MERCY. 39 

" Easter and Christmas were high feasts for the 
girls and looked forward to with joy. Privileges 
were granted and feasts given. 

In the Institution there was a class called the 
Honor Class, to which the girls were promoted 
according to their standing. The Sister having 
that class under her special charge did everything 
within her power to work a permanent reform in 
those under their charge. They had a piano ; 
and there would be music, reading of stories, and 
relating pleasant incidents. Girls would often 
come back to the House and ask particularly for 
that one Sister, that they might tell her how well 
they were getting along in their better life. 

" It was soon found that the girls would im 
prove more if they had some work to perform, and 
to this end they were assigned to housework, laun 
dry work, garden work, and the like. We also 
had, for a time, a school where they were taught 
to read, for some of them were unable to do so. 
We found, however, that it was irksome for them 
to keep still for any length of time ; active work 
was best fitted for their life, in which they were 
left with no time to think. 

The House of Mercy was not only a home for 
that unfortunate class of girls, but it has also been 
a refuge and reformatory for many who were ad 
dicted to drink and unmanageable." 

This is the history of the House of Mercy in its 
beginning. I have only to add that it was re 
moved from its old site, several years ago, and 
that a new House of Mercy stands on the Bolton 
Road at Inwood, a conspicuous object on a wooded 



4O MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

height overlooking the Hudson River. The work 
has greatly increased ; new departments have been 
added, and nothing has been omitted to render 
it complete for its various purposes. It is still 
served, as it has been from the time of its founda 
tion, by members of the Sisterhood of S. Mary; 
no words are adequate to express the value of 
their assistance, and no other persons could have 
accomplished what they have wrought. The 
praise and honour for the successful labours of the 
last thirty-three years belong to those Sisters who 
had the House in their care through all that 
length of time. 

In this connexion mention may be made of the 
first death in the Community. Sister Jane, one 
of the original five, and in charge of the House of 
Mercy, died there, after an illness of several 
months, on St. James Day, July 25, 1868. She 
had an exceptional power over the girls and was 
devotedly loved by all who knew her. She de 
parted at 9 o clock in the evening, the hour when 
Compline is said. It is the rule that, after Com 
pline, silence shall be kept throughout the House, 
no word being spoken till the morning. With an 
exquisite fitness, so often remarked in the histo 
ries of God s people, deep stillness, even the silence 
of death, fell on the House and its inmates as the 



THE HOUSE OF MERCY. 41 

soul passed. Unseen visitants would no doubt 
have helped to enforce the rule, had the survivors 
ventured to break it. The hush was awful: the 
Lord was in that place, and all, dead and living, 
kept silence before Him. 



V. 



PERSECUTION. 

THE successful administration of this first 
trust soon led to another invitation to Sis 
ter Harriet and her companions. In 1864 
they were asked to take charge of the Sheltering 
Anns. This institution, founded by the Rev. 
Thomas M. Peters, D.D., stood, at that time, on 
the old Bloomingdale Road, at looth St., not far 
distant from St. Michael s Church, of which Dr. 
Peters was Rector. Into this house were received 
children for whom there was no provision in other 
charitable institutions ; not orphans, nor half- 
orphans, nor crippled, nor sick, but such as were 
even more destitute and helpless, owing to pecu 
liar conditions; children of vicious or brutal par 
ents, neglected, waifs, friendless : such as these 
found shelter there in the arms of Christian love. 
The episode of the Sheltering Arms was at 

once painful and profitable. I shall tell the story 
42 



PERSECUTION. 43 

plainly, because it shows that the development 
and splendid advance of the Sisterhood, and all 
that came thereafter, were the result of the disci 
pline of a petty persecution which they then 
passed through. 

But first it is to be noted, that a great step was 
taken, soon after that time, in the way of organi 
zation into an incorporated society. The four 
who went out from St. Luke s Hospital had been 
held together thus far merely by the bond of a 
personal attachment and a common aim. But 
Sister Harriet felt that the time had come for set 
tlement upon a stronger basis, and for the devel 
opment of what was in the hearts and minds of 
all. The aid of the Bishop of New York was 
sought ; he was asked whether he would sanction 
the formation of a Sisterhood, to be under his own 
supervision, but with the power to work out, 
under rule, the full ideal of Community I/ife. To 
this request the venerable prelate gave careful at 
tention; a scheme was drawn up and submitted 
to him ; principles were settled, broad outlines 
drawn; the plan, after having been submitted to 
a committee of presbyters for consideration, met 
his approval ; and he announced his readiness to 
meet the wishes of his daughters in Christ. The 
Feast of the Purification, 1865, was a memorable 



44 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

day in the annals of our branch of the Church. 
On that day the Sisterhood of St. Mary came 
into existence. In St. Michael s Church, in the 
forenoon, five devout women were formally re 
ceived by Bishop Potter, as the first members of 
a society for the performance of all spiritual and 
corporal works of mercy that Christians can per 
form, and for the quest of a higher life in perfect 
consecration of body, soul, and spirit to our I/ord.* 
It was the first instance of the profession of Sis 
ters by a Bishop since the time of the Reforma 
tion, in our communion : it was a step beyond 
any that had been taken up to that time in Eng 
land. There the great Sisterhoods were not under 
Episcopal control, nor had they the advantage of 
direct Episcopal sanction. Their members were 
admitted by priests, and the management of their 
affairs was entirely in their own hands. It was 
the wish of these faithful women to have the 
Bishop for their father, and be permitted to look 

* A provision embodied in the original report to the 
Bishop states that the work of a Sister is to be held to 
"include all the corporal and spiritual works of mercy 
which a woman may perform, and that the idea as well 
of a contemplative life of prayer and devotion, as of an 
active life of labour, be included in the office. But 
especially that she be devoted to the care of the sick and 
to the work of educating the young." 



PERSECUTION. 45 

to him as their spiritual head. That wish was 
granted, to their great joy, and all was now hap 
pily begun in conformity with the ancient Catho 
lic rule, that nothing be done without the Bishop. 
Manifestly, some great things were to come of 
this beginning. Let every point be reverently 
noted. The day, the place, the hour have been 
recorded. The names of the five then professed 
were as follows : 

Harriet Starr Cannon, 
Jane C. Haight, 
Sarah C. Bridge, 
Mary B. Heartt, 
Amelia W. Asten. 

The Feast of the Purification has been kept 
ever since as the anniversary of the foundation of 
the Society. 

An act of incorporation was obtained from the 
Legislature of the State of New York, conferring 
on the new Society, in addition to the usual statu 
tory powers, others peculiar to themselves ; a spe 
cial charter covering everything that could be 
desired for growth, government, and efficiency in 
work. Perhaps the most important provision was 
that no change may be made in the fundamental 



46 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

law of the Institution without the joint consent 
and approval of the Bishop of New York on the 
one side and the Sisters assembled in Chapter on 
the other. 

The act of incorporation bears date in May, 
1865; it was granted soon after the founding of 
the new Sisterhood. Early in the month of Sep 
tember in the same year, in the sacristy of St. 
Luke s Church, Hudson St., an election was held, 
at which Sister Harriet was chosen, by the unani 
mous vote of her companions, to be Superior; an 
office to which she was repeatedly re-elected, and 
which she held on the day when she entered into 
rest. Henceforth the title of Mother shall be 
applied to her as I continue this narrative. 

One word more as to the event of Feby. 2d, 
1865. It illustrates the humility of Sister Harriet 
and her devotion to her duties. On that day she 
was engaged in nursing a child ill of the small 
pox. When the time for the ceremony at the 
church arrived, she with great reluctance laid 
down the child, and went off to St. Michael s. 
As soon as the service was over she returned with 
all speed to the church, and resumed the charge 
of the little patient. In one of her letters I find 
her recurring with some amusement to the inci 
dent: 



PERSECUTION. 47 

" I remember the day just twenty years ago, 
when we five stood before the altar at St. Mi 
chael s, and how I slipped away from my small 
pox patient to be professed ! ! " 

A Rule was subsequently drawn up, containing 
the provisions necessary for carrying the design 
of the incorporation into effect. It owes its char 
acter to the intelligence and wisdom of the foun 
der. It deals with the work of the Community, 
its form of government, its officers, and members, 
its mode of transacting business, its property, and 
the general regulation of affairs. The supreme 
power is vested in the Chapter, composed of pro 
fessed Sisters. The Superior is a constitutionally 
appointed officer, chosen for a fixed term, and 
eligible for re-election. This is the Outer Rule. 
There is, in addition, an Inner Rule, which relates 
to the religious observances of the Community, 
and their devotional life and spiritual discipline. 

To proceed with our narrative. The Sisters 
took charge of the Sheltering Arms in 1864: their 
connexion with it was not dissolved till 1870. In 
the meantime further demands upon their services 
were made. St. Barnabas House, in Mulberry 
St. near Bleecker, an institution under the charge 
of the New York City Mission Society, needed 
an efficient interior management, and in the year 



4 8 



MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 



1867, on the request of that Society, it was also 
placed under their care. Of this latter institution 
they had charge for nearly two years. 

In the Sheltering Arms the development of 
that life which the Sisterhood had so long been 
seeking began. The day had dawned. They 
recited daily offices ; they observed the seven 
canonical hours. One writes of that time : 

" In these things a lovely trait of dear Mother 
Harriet was plainly seen and felt. Her deep devo 
tion of spirit, however pressing were the labours of 
the day, brought peace. Her voice would sound 
out far beyond the little oratory, and many of the 
children and workers would look forward with 
pleasure to the Vesper hour; and eagerly would 
the children expect the nine o clock service, which 
the Mother always led, when Ps. xv. was sung 
responsively. Her heart was full of love and ten 
derness for these poor little ones. As usual she 
was always seeking the comfort of others, and 
bearing personal inconvenience with an uncom 
plaining spirit." 

The work at St. Barnabas House was of a 
different character. Mrs. William Richmond had 
opened a house under that name for the temporary 
care of infants and homeless young mothers. The 
Sisters managed to take care of the infants, for a 
short time, at the House of Mercy, and this was 
the beginning of what is now an Infant Asylum. 



PERSECUTION. 49 

At a subsequent date the City Mission Society 
opened St. Barnabas House for homeless women 
and children ; of this, on the invitation of the 
trustees and with the consent of the Bishop, the 
Sisters now took charge. Women seeking em 
ployment and situations were allowed to remain 
there one week, until they could obtain work or be 
transferred to other institutions. Many who had 
been discharged from the hospitals were received 
there and cared for during their convalescence. 
Daily morning and evening services were held in 
the Chapel, and it was understood that the duty 
of the Sister was not only to relieve bodily wants 
but also to give spiritual help and aid. A work 
for the rescue of the fallen formed a part of the 
general plan. A room was hired on Broadway 
and nth St., in which evening service, with short 
addresses and singing, was held; a carriage was 
in readiness; and those who could be persuaded 
to make an effort to forsake their evil life, were at 
once taken to St. Barnabas House, received by 
the Sisters, and, whenever it seemed desirable, 
transferred to the House of Mercy. The great 
work done then, and ever since, to this day, at 
St. Barnabas is too well known to the citizens of 
New York to need further description here. 
During the sojourn of the Sisters at the Shel- 



50 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

taring Arms, Mother Harriet was taken ill of 
typhoid fever. Her strength, and all her powers 
had been overtaxed. For many weeks the result 
was doubtful. A long rest was ordered, after her 
recovery, until she had completely regained her 
health. 

With the House of Mercy, the Sheltering Arms, 
and St. Barnabas House in their charge, the Sis 
ters had all they could desire in the way of active 
employment. And yet, if things had remained 
in that position, the object of their organization 
could not have been fulfilled. Those institutions 
were under the charges of managing Boards and 
Trustees, to whom all must defer, and by whose 
wishes they must be controlled; independent ac 
tion would have been impossible, and the develop 
ment of their plans for the restoration of the Re 
ligious Life in Community would have depended 
on the assent and approval of persons perhaps 
not in sympathy with their views and intentions. 
To be released from a possibly unfriendly re 
straint, and to build on their own foundation, was 
necessary, if the Community was to become a 
power in the Church. We think that the hand 
of an overruling Providence can be plainly seen 
in what next occurred. To tighten the bonds by 
which they were already held was the way to 



PERSECUTION. 5 1 

bring about a removal of the obstacles in the way 
of advance, and to send these toilers once more 
from quiet places, poor but free. 

The trouble began at St. Barnabas House. 
The reception of the five Sisters by Bishop Potter, 
the impressive scene at St. Michael s Church, and 
the growth of the little society for others had 
been added to their number at length attracted 
public attention. The journals of the city had 
given highly coloured accounts of the new so 
ciety, its objects and aims, and the Protestantism 
of the day at last took the alarm. What was this 
thing thus growing up amidst us ? What were 
these so-called Sisters, these " nuns," these 
Romanists in disguise ? What had the 
Bishop done ? And what more might be com 
ing ? Was it true that there were to be Habits, 
and a Rule, and Vows ? little by little, curios 
ity led to inspection, and inspection to serious 
disquietude. The trouble began at St. Barnabas 
House. Among the most active of the trustees 
was the estimable pastor of a prominent city 
parish, a lovable man, of warm heart and great 
zeal, but nervously sensitive to censure on the 
part of the evangelical public. In the parish 
of which he was the Rector before he came to 
New York, there were many Irish Orangemen : 



52 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

these good people were greatly scandalized by the 
discovery of little crosses engraved on the chalice 
and paten of the Communion service : the Rector, 
to propitiate them, sent the vessels to a silver 
smith and had the objectionable symbols carefully 
erased. It may be imagined with what anxiety 
a person of this disposition would watch the 
proceedings of those to whom the care of St. 
Barnabas House and its beneficiaries had been 
intrusted. In the manner in which the services 
were conducted there was nothing to reprehend; 
nor yet in the ministrations to the poor or the 
instruction of the ignorant. But the question 
was raised : what might the Sisters be doing in 
the privacy of their rooms ? What prayers did 
they say there ? What offices did they recite ? 
What manuals of devotion might be on their 
tables ? These questions led to a formal demand 
that the Trustees should have the access to the 
Sisters private apartments, as visitors, with the 
right to inspect all books and manuals used by 
them in their prayers, and that no books should 
be so used except such as were approved by 
the Trustees. Once satisfied that the alternative 
lay between submitting to such inquisitorial 
interference, or withdrawing from the House, 
they promptly made their choice, and, one morn- 



PERSECUTION. 53 

ing, quietly took their few and scanty belongings 
and went away. 

So then there were left in their charge only the 
Sheltering Arms and the House of Mercy. The 
Sheltering Arms had been recently founded, and 
was dependent for support on the contributions 
and donations of its friends among the Church 
people of the city. It was a popular charity; but 
its helpers were of that class who will aid only 
what pleases them, and may be easily influenced 
to withdraw their subscriptions. The feeling 
against the Sisters grew, and spread more widely 
on the report that they had been forced (for so 
the adversary put it) to leave St. Barnabas 
House. And now began what amounted to a 
persecution on a small scale illustrating the 
acrimony of religious prejudice and the violence 
of Protestant antipathy. The Sisterhood became 
the object of comment, criticism, and animad 
version; it was discussed in the fashionable cir 
cles of New York society; an intense curiosity 
to see those strange and dangerous creatures 
led to visits of inspection to the Sheltering Arms. 
Ladies of high social position took up the mat 
ter; it was no uncommon thing to see them, of 
an afternoon, driving thither in their handsome 
carriages, entering the building, demanding in- 



54 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

terviews with the Sisters, examining them as if 
they were wild animals in a menagerie, question 
ing, browbeating, catechising them, and even 
sometimes going so far as to pluck at their gar 
ments to see of what material they were made. 
Thus the excitement grew and spread, until it 
became apparent that the presence of the Sisters 
was detrimental to the interests of the institution, 
and that many subscriptions and contributions 
would be withdrawn if they continued in charge. 
It was impossible to resist the pressure ; in due 
time Mother Harriet and her associates found that 
their presence was no longer desired; and with 
sad hearts and a burning sense of injustice they 
withdrew. 

This is a pitiful story; but at this distance it 
awakens no regret except that religious bigotry 
should at any time have had such sway among 
us. To the Community, the persecution was 
most helpful; it threw them on themselves; it 
made some warm friends for them ; it showed 
them that to be done efficiently their work must 
be done in houses of their own, subject to no nag 
ging interference and secure from molestation ; 
and so it led, under the Providence of God, to all 
that came after, step by step, and year by year, 
until now we see them, increased tenfold in num 
ber, firmly planted in half a dozen dioceses of the 



PERSECUTION. 



55 



Church, holders of a very large amount of valua 
ble property in houses and land east, west, and 
south, having their own schools, hospitals, and 
Mother house ; growing in the possession of all 
things needed to a vastly extended work, and in 
favour with God and man. 

Nor let me omit to add that if, at that time, 
the society women of New York displayed a 
spirit unworthy of themselves, they have amply 
atoned for the errors of that past day. Those 
bitter prejudices are dead, and beyond the chance 
of revival ; a generous and gracious appreciation 
of all good has grown up in their place. I my 
self have recently seen, in the reception room of 
one of the finest mansions in Madison Avenue, a 
great assemblage of ladies of high social position 
brought together to meet a poor lay brother of 
Nazareth in quest of help for his work. I saw 
him face to face with that fair and friendly assem 
blage, in his brown habit with the knotted cord 
about his waist ; and I saw the generous and 
broad-minded Rector of St. Bartholomew s stand 
ing beside his humble brother and affectionately 
and earnestly speaking in his behalf. Thus hath 
God wrought in our time ; and blessed be His 
holy Name. 

The storm which beat upon the Sisters at that 
time did its best to drive them from the House of 



56 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

Mercy, as it had done from the other institutions 
in which they had served; but here its force was 
stayed and broken. Some agitation occurred, but 
a large majority of the Trustees had the courage 
and independence to stand, unshaken by the clam 
ours and criminations of the hour. They never 
lost their confidence in Mother Harriet, nor did 
they ever consider the question of withdrawing 
what they had committed to her and her devoted 
companions. Beneath the surface ripples was a 
great depth of appreciation, affection, and confi 
dence. The House of Mercy is still in the charge 
of the Sisters of St. Mary as it has been since the 
year 1863.* 

* See an interesting communication in the Church 
Eclectic, of April, 1896, entitled: " Mother Harriet of the 
Sisterhood of St. Mary. A Sketch. By the Right Rev. 
George F. Seymour, D.D., I/L.D., Bishop of Springfield. 
Young Churchman Co., Milwaukee, Wis." Dr. Sey 
mour was Chaplain of the House of Mercy for several 
years, including the year 1867. He states that "when 
the Sisters were removed under coercion from the Shel 
tering Arms, in obedience to a published protest against 
them, with an implied threat that supplies would in 
future be withheld from the institution if they were suf 
fered to remain in charge, the House of Mercy opened 
her arms to receive the fugitives ; and then the further 
effort was contemplated to drive us all, sisters and chap 
lain, from the House of Mercy and leave us without 
shelter." But it failed, most fortunately for the work. 



VI. 

ADVANCE, DEVELOPMENT, GROWTH. 

WE come to the beginning of a new era in 
this history. It is our pleasant task to 
trace the growth of the work done by 
the Sisterhood from the time when they began to 
build on their own foundations, to the present 
day. The period is one of twenty-five years; we 
must pass over it as rapidly as possible. 

Among the objects proposed in the summary of 
the duties of the Community is Christian educa 
tion. Mother Harriet had this much at heart; 
the Sisterhood should be a praying Sisterhood, a 
nursing Sisterhood, a missionary Sisterhood, a 
teaching Sisterhood : she deemed the instruction 
of the young one of the most necessary and valu 
able of the works of faith ; and to this she now 
addressed her efforts; the first thing to be estab 
lished was a Christian School. A small house 
was rented in 46th St. between Fifth and Sixth 
57 



58 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

Avenues ; a few children came ; and, very mod 
estly and quietly, without parade or sensation, 
the work was commenced. The little school in 
time became a great school; among the Sisters 
were some women who had been trained as teach 
ers; this was the opportunity to lift their work to 
a higher plane. No long time had passed before 
it was found that they needed more room. What 
should be done ? It happened (if that word be 
appropriate to anything in this record) that a very 
large house had been erected by a celebrated edu 
cator of the day, who, however, through financial 
embarrassment, found himself compelled to give 
up his design. The building, just as it was com 
pleted and ready for occupation as a school, was 
left on his hands, embarrassed with workmen s 
liens, and fit for nothing but the use for which it 
had been planned. It was at No. 8 East 46th St., 
opposite the Windsor Hotel ; a large and commo 
dious structure of about 40 feet front, and contain 
ing every appointment needed for a high class 
school for girls. On this property the Reverend 
Mother looked with longing eyes but little hope; 
till suddenly and unexpectedly the means were of 
fered to her for its purchase, the liens were all paid, 
and she found herself in possession of the house 
and lot in fee. To remove from their smaller quar- 



ADVANCE, DEVELOPMENT, GROWTH. 59 

ters was the work of a short time, and St. Mary s 
School was opened. It has increased and grown 
till it is now one of the largest in New York. 
The work of education has been developed, the 
standard of scholarship raised ; its graduates easily 
pass the entrance examination for Barnard Col 
lege and take creditable places among the stu 
dents. The memory of Sister Agnes is cherished 
there ; she was the head of the school for many 
years, and to her in great part is it indebted for 
its high reputation. 

The house in 46th St. served also for a kind of 
headquarters of the Community; there the Mother 
resided, and there the novices were lodged and 
trained. A room appropriately fitted up and fur 
nished as a chapel was used for the school ser 
vices, and also for the devotional offices of the 
little Community, who recited the Hours there. 
Great was their content in having at last a dwell 
ing apt for their uses, where they were secure 
from molestation, in the liberty of the daughters 
of God. I well remember those days, and espe 
cially the chapel services and the holy religion of 
the place. After some time the room was rear 
ranged and enlarged; a painting by Father Derby 
was placed over the altar ; other large pictures, 
also gifts, adorned the walls. The stalls were in- 



60 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

creased in number so as to make places for some 
thirty persons ; the Sisters used to wonder whether 
there would ever be enough to fill them; three 
times the number of stalls are now in the choir 
of the Church at St. Gabriel s. 

The next undertaking of the Community was a 
Hospital for children. A very modest beginning 
was made; a house 12 \ feet wide was rented at 
206 West 4oth St., and the work was begun. 
One of the Sisters who had worked at the Shelter 
ing Arms was called in to inspect the place and 
give her opinion on its fitness for the purpose. 
This Sister had become noted in the Community 
for a special interest in funerals; it used to be said 
of her that her patron Saint was Joseph of Arima- 
thea. When a child died at the Sheltering Arms, 
she would set out on foot and trudge beside the 
body, accompanying it to its burial at St. Mi 
chael s cemetery, at Astoria. This good Sister, 
after a careful inspection of the premises, an 
nounced that there appeared to her to be only one 
serious drawback, the staircase was so narrow that 
she thought it would be very difficult to carry 
down the body of a large child ! Notwithstand 
ing, the little house was rented and three or four 
children were received. How vastly, how won 
derfully, that blessed work has grown ! The out- 



ADVANCE, DEVELOPMENT, GROWTH. 6 1 

come of that venture of faith is seen in the large 
buildings having a frontage of 92 feet on West 
34th St. near Ninth Avenue. These have come, 
one by one, in time; and now St. Mary s Hospital 
for Children ranks next to St. Luke s in the Hos 
pitals of our Church in New York. It provides 
for 125 patients; it has already 52 endowed beds; 
and it is always full. The Out-door Department, 
which was started in 1881, has steadily increased. 
By a gift of $41,000 from a lady in this city a Dis 
pensary, Mortuary Chapel, and Autopsy Room 
were also erected in 1894. The Hospital has 
been for years in the charge of Sister Catharine; 
one who was, as might be said, an adopted child 
of Sister Harriet in her youth; the wise, tender, 
and calm administrator of a great trust. 

The next acquisition of the Community was 
that of the property at Peekskill-on-the-Hudson, 
now known as St. Gabriel s. The school in 46th 
St. had grown rapidly ; but its progress was 
checked by want of accommodation, as the house 
had to serve, not only for the school, but also as 
a residence for several of the Sisters, and particu 
larly for the Novices, who were now coming in 
considerable numbers. Mother Harriet looked 
forward to an establishment of some kind in the 
country; in fact it had become necessary; and she 



62 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

wisely considered that the establishment of a 
suburban school might be an aid to that design. 
Accordingly, in 1872, they purchased a piece of 
ground, about 30 acres in extent, on the heights 
to the north of Peekskill, and opened a school 
there by the name of St. Gabriel s. When it had 
become thoroughly established, those of the Sis 
ters in 46th St. who were not engaged in St. 
Mary s School, were transferred to Peekskill, to 
gether with the entire Novitiate, and thenceforth 
the Mother Superior made her residence there. 
St. Gabriel s has become, in time, perhaps, the 
most important of their possessions ; partly by 
purchase, and partly by gifts, some of great 
value, it has been enlarged and enriched, till it 
now contains many buildings, with about 50 acres 
of land. On entering the grounds, by a gate 
opening from the highway, the visitor first sees 
on the left a large dwelling house, to which the 
school girls have given the name of the Castle, 
and in which some of the older pupils are lodged. 
To the right is another large building, known as 
the Noyes Memorial Home, opened in 1889 for 
the reception of otherwise homeless children from 
St. Mary s Hospital, suffering from chronic ail 
ments as well as for convalescents from long ill 
ness requiring bracing air; in that Home, given 



ADVANCE, DEVELOPMENT, GROWTH. 63 

by a widow in memory of her husband, formerly 
a clergyman of the City of New York, some 50 
children are annually cared for. Passing on, the 
road takes a turn and ascends, commanding a 
view of the lower Hudson down to the Palisades; 
next appears the Chapel, to the left. Still farther 
on, at some distance, partly concealed by trees, is 
the school building, with accommodation for forty 
boarders; and next to it is the Convent, now too 
small, and always inconvenient. The grounds 
beyond are covered with the forest growth of many 
years; a tarn of small dimensions meets the eye, 
its northern side faced by a cliff known as St. 
Peter s Rock. Farther on is the Cemetery, and 
around and beyond are woods and thickets which 
afford a pleasant place of exercise, recreation, and 
amusement, where no annoyance need be feared 
and no molesting foot can intrude. 

All that I have described has come by degrees, 
within the last twenty years or more ; another 
conspicuous monument of the foresight, energy, 
prudence, and business capacity of the head of the 
Sisterhood. For many years St. Gabriel s has 
been the point from which the whole work has 
been directed, the Mother Superior having her 
residence and office there, and thence carrying on 
her large and varied correspondence. 



64 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

The following year, 1873, marks another epoch 
in the history; then was made the first advance 
beyond the limits of the Diocese of New York. 
The Right Rev. Dr. Quintard, Bishop of Tennes 
see, sent an urgent invitation to Mother Harriet 
for Sisters to take charge of a school and a chari 
table institution at Memphis, in his diocese. The 
Mother had always an enthusiastic missionary 
spirit ; in a letter written several years afterwards, 
I find these words: 

Bishop Worthington asks us to go to Ne 
braska; and we are asked to go to Philadelphia; 
and we are asked to go to China. I hope some 
day we may go to China." 

Bishop Quintard s invitation, after careful con 
sideration, was accepted, and three or four Sisters 
were sent to Memphis. 

I have received from one of the Sisters at Mem 
phis, a communication, giving full and very inter 
esting details of the beginning and progress of the 
work in the South. A part of it I insert as fol 
lows: 

" Sewanee, Tenn., 

" June 22d, 1890. 
" Dear Dr. Dix : 

Our dear Mother asks me to send you some 
reminiscences of our Mother Foundress, associ 
ated with our Southern work. 



ADVANCE, DEVELOPMENT, GROWTH. 65 

" Our Mother had a deep affection for her na 
tive Southern land. Her heart was always 
touched by the pathetic poverty and unworldli- 
ness of its simple folk, especially the darkey, 
and full of admiration for the fine qualities of its 
cultured people. She used to say There are two 
kinds of Southern ladies, the languid kind that 
can do nothing and the accomplished kind that 
can do most things better than any one else. 

" In 1869 Bishop Quintard, whom Mother had 
known from her girlhood, begged for the estab 
lishment of a Branch of St. Mary s in Tennessee. 
He brought to the Community three ladies from 
Tennessee, aspirants to the Religious life, and in 
1873 the Southern Branch of the Community was 
established at Memphis. The work consisted of 
St. Mary s School and the charge of the Church 
Orphans Home. The Mother made her first visit 
to Tennessee in December of that year. St. Mary s 
School then occupied the Bishop s residence on 
the west side of the little Cathedral. Mother en 
joyed her visit heartily, finding much of the life 
new to her. She had not been South (I believe) 
since her childhood. During this visit Mother 
arranged the purchase of the property adjoining 
the Church on the east side, for St. Mary s 
School, though the permanent building was not 
begun till the spring of 1878 and was completed 
in 1888. 

" Mother made nine visits to the work in 
Tennessee. On her second visit South she went 
to Mobile and spent some days with the Deacon 
esses in charge of the Orphanage in that city. 
From Mobile she went by steamboat up the Mo 
bile River to visit her relations in Alabama, among 



66 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET, 

whom was her cousin, John English, whom she 
loved as a dear brother. 

" In 1878, when the Mississippi Valley was 
afflicted by the terrible epidemic of yellow-fever, 
Mother expressed an earnest desire to go South 
to comfort and aid the Sisters in their overwhelm 
ing suffering and work. But this was not thought 
expedient by the Community. Her loving heart 
was almost broken by the great losses sustained at 
that time, especially by the death of the beloved 
Sister Constance. She came South as soon as the 
epidemic was over and spent Christmas of 1878 
with us. She gladly consented to the continu 
ance of the Southern work, enfeebled though it 
was by the death of all the Southern Sisters but 
one. During her visit to Tennessee in 1887 
Mother visited Nashville and Sewanee for the 
purpose of selecting a locality for a country home 
for the Southern Community. She chose Sewanee 
because it was the site of the University of the 
South and because of its fine mountain air and 
scenery. The place now known as St. Mary s 
on the Mountain, or The House of the Trans 
figuration, was then purchased and dedicated on 
the Feast of the Transfiguration, 1888. The suf 
fering and ignorance of the poor mountain people 
appealed strongly to the Mother s tender heart 
and she interested many of her personal friends in 
that mission work at Sewanee." 

The work in the South thus described by one 
of the labourers there, was undertaken with a 
deep sense of responsibility, but without hesita 
tion. It seemed to be on the line of their hopes, 



ADVANCE, DEVELOPMENT, GROWTH. 67 

intentions, and prayers. It has been greatly 
blessed, every way. Many postulants and novices 
have been sent to the Mother House in the North, 
young women of enthusiasm and devotion, and 
thus the gift to the Bishop of Tennessee twenty- 
six years ago has been returned sevenfold. 

Let us turn next to New York. There is at 
No. 50 Varick St. a large six-story house next to 
S.t. John s Chapel, which for more than half a 
century was the Rectory of Trinity Church. It 
was built for Bishop Hobart, when the Park and 
neighbourhood were the Faubourg St. Germain 
of our city: he dwelt there and so did his suc 
cessor, the Rev. Dr. William Berrian, upon whose 
death, in 1862, it became the residence of the pres 
ent incumbent. About the year 1871, the Vestry, 
thinking it desirable that the Rectory should be 
at a more central point, proposed to the Rector a 
removal farther up town. To this he strongly 
objected, but finally assented, on condition that 
the ancient building should neither be sold nor 
leased for secular purposes but converted to some 
charitable use. Approving the suggestion, and 
acting on his advice, the Vestry of Trinity Church 
decided to turn the Rectory into an infirmary or 
Parish Hospital, for the benefit of our own poor 
and of others where room could be had. This 



68 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

having been done, it was a question how the work 
should be carried on; and application was made 
to Mother Harriet for a Sister to take charge of 
the new foundation, and as many more as might 
be needed to help her. The Reverend Mother 
hesitated as to compliance with the request; paro 
chial Sisterhoods constitute a class by themselves; 
in no sense was the Community of St. Mary a 
parish organization ; it formed a part of no parish ; 
it was responsible to the Bishop only; and experi 
ence had taught the danger of entangling alli 
ances. But considering that the Rector of Trinity 
was at that time also the Pastor of the Sisters, 
and in deference to his wishes for which he has 
ever been dutifully grateful, consent was given. 
A Sister was sent, with helpers; and thus a new 
branch of the work was added in the largest and 
oldest of the parishes of New York. 

The annual reports of Trinity Infirmary, or 
Trinity Hospital as it is now called, show a vast 
amount of work done there, without compensa 
tion, for people labouring under the oppression of 
sickness and passing through the valley of the 
shadow of death : but no one has yet written, nor 
could statistics tell, the story of the spiritual force 
exerted there upon the sick in heart and the dis 
tressed in soul and spirit. The ministrations of 



ADVANCE, DEVELOPMENT, GKOWTH. 69 

the Sisters to the weak, the penitent, the unhappy 
have been quite as abundantly blessed as those of 
the medical staff to the bodies of their patients. 
It has been emphatically a mission work ; the 
stories of persons who, during illness, have there 
been reclaimed or converted to Christ, are numer 
ous and deeply affecting; the priests of St. John s 
Chapel have been daily visitors to the wards ; 
many they have prepared for baptism, confirma 
tion, Holy Communion, and death ; many who 
entered the door with scarce a hope for this world 
or the next have gone forth strong in faith, new 
creatures in body and spirit, refreshed and well. 
By degrees some other branches of Christian work 
have been added to the Hospital service: guilds 
have been formed, classes instructed ; by large 
additions to the building, room has been gained 
for a beautiful Chapel, where priestly ministra 
tions are extended to people not needing medical 
aid, and Retreats and Quiet Days have been con 
ducted from season to season. All this work, 
large in range, and most important in a religious 
aspect, has been under the constant and devoted ob 
servation of the Sister Eleanor, for the last twenty- 
two years Superintendent of the Hospital. 

Nor are the labours of the Sisters limited to the 
precincts of St. John s Chapel. For sixteen years 



7O MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

they have had charge of the Trinity Mission 
House, labouring in the vast field between the 
Battery and Chambers St., as helpers to the 
Clergy stationed in that part of the parish. It 
must suffice to have made mention of this great 
work, in which they have been so devotedly en 
gaged; the glimpse will be enough for the reader, 
already, perhaps, becoming bewildered with the 
extent and variety of their labours. 

But, to anticipate somewhat, I shall postpone 
the story of Memphis, and complete this survey 
of the field over which the eyes of the Mother 
were constantly ranging, and to every portion of 
which her great heart was hourly going out, by 
mentioning their entrance into two more dioceses, 
Wisconsin and Chicago. 

In the year 1870, when Dr. William E. Armi- 
tage was Bishop of Wisconsin, he founded at 
Kenosha a School for Girls, as a memorial to his 
venerated predecessor, Bishop Kemper, which was 
intended to become eventually a home for a Sis 
terhood for Church School teaching." This 
School, established and opened in the autumn of 
that year, was carried on with difficulty and in 
different success for about seven years, when it 
became obvious that something must be done to 
rescue it from impending failure. 



ADVANCE, DEVELOPMENT, GROWTH. /I 

At a meeting of the Trustees, held Sept. 15, 
1877, the Rev. Jas. de Koven, D.D., offered a 
resolution setting forth the long entertained desire 
of the Board that the School should be in the 
hands of a Sisterhood, and alleging that the 
time had come when a change in the management 
must be made. Upon the adoption of this resolu 
tion, the Bishop of the Diocese, the Right Rev. 
Dr. E. R. Welles, wrote at once to Mother Har 
riet, and received her reply as follows: 

" St. Gabriel s, Nov. 8th, 1877. 
" To THE RIGHT REVD. E. R. WELLES. 
Rev. and Dear Sir : 

1 I write this morning to say that, God will 
ing, we will send two Sisters to take charge of 
Kemper Hall the next scholastic year. We feel 
that this is a great venture of faith, still, if God 
calls, we must have no fears, but go lovingly forth 
in His Name. The Sisters whom I propose to 
send will, I think, in every respect prove equal to 
the task assigned them. I will write a line to Dr. 
de Koven to-day. Commending our little Com 
munity to your prayers, I am, 
" Rev. Father in God, 

" Faithfully yours, 

" ^ HARRIET, Mr. Supr., 
" Sisters of S. Mary." 

In June, 1878, the Sisters came, and the School 
opened under their charge in the following Sep 
tember. 



72 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

So great was the success which followed under 
the new management, that in January, 1886, the 
Board of Trustees vacated their office, and turned 
the School over to the Sisters, by the following 
resolution: 

" The Trustees of Kemper Hall, recognizing 
the thoroughness of the work of the Sisters of St. 
Mary, and desiring to secure their permanent care 
of this Institution, propose the following plan to 
the Sisters of St. Mary : 

" That the Sisters of St. Mary become the 
Trustees of Kemper Hall in place of the present 
Trustees (who are willing to resign in their favour) 
and thereby to be vested with all the power and 
obligations of the present Corporation." 

This arrangement was accepted, May, 1886. 
The Board of Trustees now consists of the Bishop 
of Milwaukee, ex-officio, the Mother Superior and 
Sisters of St. Mary, and some one man of business 
ability selected by the Sisters to be their adviser 
when his services may be needed. 

When the Sisters took charge of the School in 
1878, there was a large indebtedness, with an 
annual deficit, for which the Trustees provided by 
borrowing from time to time, thus increasing the 
debt. To this the Sisters strongly objected. 
Since they became the Trustees in 1886, the situ- 



ADVANCE, DEVELOPMENT, GROWTH. 73 

ation changed ; a large part of the debt has 
already been paid, and the financial condition is 
sound. The property is beautifully situated on 
Lake Michigan, the incursions of which are pre 
vented by a very large breakwater which cost a 
great sum to build and requires a considerable 
annual outlay to keep in order. The grounds are 
attractive, and defended by magnificent pines and 
cedars from the prairie winds. Many new build 
ings have been erected, including a large refec 
tory, chemical and physical laboratories, studio 
and class-rooms, and enlarged dormitories. The 
School opened in 1870 with 10 boarding pupils 
and 3 day scholars; in 1883 it had 30 boarders, 
and for the last two years there have been 90 
boarders besides a considerable number of day 
scholars. It is said, in the Report of the School, 
that there has never been a death among pupils 
resident at Kemper Hall since the Sisters took 
charge in 1878, nor any epidemic illness there. 
Such is the record of a work which God has 
blessed. 

Of the spiritual work done at Kenosha much 
might be said. In that connexion occur the 
names of Bishops Welles, Knight, and Nicholson, 
all devoted to the interests of Church extension 
and Christian education at that centre of intellec- 



74 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

tual, moral, and spiritual life in their portion of 
the field : and with tender recollections we muse 
of James de Koven, I,ucien L,ance, John J. Elmen- 
dorff, who all laboured in the work and were in 
their times helpers of Kemper Hall. 

From several other quarters invitations have 
come since that day, asking their presence and 
their help. Nearly all of these have been denied 
for want of numbers sufficient to meet the demand. 
How vast the force required for such a range of 
labours ! It will be seen, when the reader comes 
to the Story of Memphis, how this almost enthu 
siastic appreciation of the work of women in Com 
munity and devoted to our Blessed I^ord grew so 
fast and became so strong. With heartfelt pain, 
the Mother found herself at last unable to answer 
Yes to the requests which poured into her office 
at St. Gabriel s. One, however, she forced her 
self to comply with ; it was that of the Bishop of 
Chicago, the Right Rev. Dr. McL,aren, who, in 
1891, asked her aid in connexion with the mission 
work at his Cathedral, in that enormous and most 
perplexing, if not unintelligible, metropolis of the 
West. The Sisters were already established 
firmly in that city. 

Mother Harriet seems to have set her heart on 
the settlement in Chicago, fully realizing the im- 



ADVANCE, DEVELOPMENT, GROWTH. 75 

portance of the field. A letter of hers bears on 
this point. 



" St. Gabriel s, Peekskill, Jany. 
" My very dear Sister : 

Shall we have a little chat over Chicago this 
morning ? . . . I think I appreciate fully 
all the points in regard to our taking up work in 
Chicago; and whenever it seems to be the will of 
God that we should make a foundation there, I 
shall be not only ready but more than ready to 
begin it. One might make two points: 

" ist. If through any action, or want of action, 
on the part of the Trustees, we should be obliged 
to leave Kemper Hall, that moment we would be 
ready for Chicago. 

1 The other point : Whenever the Province of 
Illinois is ready to send for training two or three 
candidates, we promise a foundation for Chicago. 
I say, the Province of Illinois, but, of course, I 
intend by that, any Western Diocese. I think 
when we have eight Sisters for our work at the 
West, we may safely assume two works. I con 
sider now that we have five, as Sister F - really 
came to us from the West, and it is my intention, 
as soon as it can possibly be done, either to return 
her, or a Sister in her place, for the work at the 
West. Now where are those candidates ? Can 
you not produce one or two of them ? Has 
Bishop - no recruit forces ? Perhaps I ought 
to add a word in regard to his having other Sis 
ters, as you mentioned the matter in your letter. 
Of course, if there should be other Sisters ready 



76 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

to go to the Bishop, and we not ready, it would 
be an indication that God did not intend St. 
Mary s for that field. The natural man has a 
longing for Chicago ; but the natural man must 
not govern but be governed by the spiritual man ; 
and so let us wait quietly for the clear light. 

In the autumn of 1887 a small house was opened 
on the south side of Chicago in connexion with 
St. Clement s Church, Canon Knowles being then 
the priest in charge. The modest beginning 
grew in time to more. The Mother wrote after 
the settlement had been made in that city : 

" I suppose Chicago is full of people of every 
sort and kind ; and that, even in the mission 
work, there comes some phase of this pressure of 
people. One feels like saying, Oh ! their souls ! 
their souls ! Pray for the multitude. 

The Sisters had been in that position three 
years and a half, when they removed to the 
Cathedral, and took up mission work on the west 
side. In 1894 they purchased the property next 
door to their Mission House, for $16,000, and 
opened a Temporary Home for Children ; this 
also belongs to the Community. 

With these establishments, at Kenosha and 
Chicago, there was now what might be considered 



ADVANCE, DEVELOPMENT, GROWTH. 77 

a Western branch of the Community, as there 
was a Southern branch at Memphis and Sewanee. 
That these might become, at some future time, in 
part autonomous, holding a place in the Commu 
nity something like that of Provinces in the 
Church at large, was the Reverend Mother s idea 
and earnest desire to the day of her departure. 

Later, in the year 1886, the Laura Franklin 
Hospital in this city was placed in charge of the 
Sisters. This, I think, completes the list of the 
institutions, educational, eleemosynary, etc., now 
in their care, a wonderful list to have been written 
since the year 1867. 



VII. 
MEMPHIS. 

THE story of Memphis has been told in full 
already ; * it must be too well known to 
need repetition. And yet some mention of 
it must be made, so great is its importance in this 
history. Before the memorable year 1878, many 
spoke against these faithful and devoted women : 
after that year, the tongue of calumny was silent, 
while men looked on with beating hearts, and 
eyes dim with tears. For God then gave to His 
faithful the crown of martyrdom ; their names be- 

* See a pamphlet entitled The Sisters of St. Mary at 
Memphis. With the Ads and Sufferings of the Priests 
and others who were there with them during the Yellow 
Fever Season of 1878. By the Rev. Morgan Dix, D.D. 
This pamphlet, privately printed, was, by permission 
of the Mother Superior, reprinted in Church Work, a 
monthly magazine for Church work, edited by Mrs. 
A. T. Twing, vol. ii., No. 12, October, 1887. New York, 
M. H. Mallory & Co., 47 L,afayette Place. 
78 



LETTERS. 79 

came sacred thenceforth, ennobled by the love 
which shrinks not from death, in appalling form. 
The light is still shining on the graves in Mem 
phis, where they rest who laid down their lives 
readily, joyfully, eagerly, for God, for the breth 
ren, and for those who had no strength nor cour 
age left ; who thus filled up the measure of their 
calling, and were nailed to the Cross with Him 
who, for our sakes, became obedient unto death. 
The sacrifice was at once accepted by all beholders 
as the vindication of the immolated, the test of 
their motives, and the proof of the power of their 
faith. It could not have come more opportunely. 
A voice seemed to say, of them: "Thou shalt 
hide them privily by Thine own Presence from 
the provoking of all men : Thou shalt keep them 
secretly in Thy tabernacle from the strife of 
tongues." 

It will be remembered that in the year 1873, on 
the request of Bishop Quintard, and with the con 
sent of Bishop Potter, some of the Sisters were 
sent to Memphis, to found a school for girls, and 
to take charge of an institution already existing, 
known as the Church Home. In August of that 
year, a little band arrived, consisting of Sister 
Constance, who was to be the Sister Superior and 
to take the headship of the school; Sister Amelia, 



80 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

one of the original five, Sister Thecla, who had 
just made her profession, and a novice known as 
Sister Hughetta, a young lady of a distinguished 
Southern family. Sister Amelia was set to work 
to organize the Church Home, then in deplorable 
disorder; a task for which she had a natural apti 
tude, with the advantage of her experience in the 
Sheltering Arms and House of Mercy ; the other 
three were to be specially engaged in the educa 
tional work. Sister Constance* was a young 
woman of culture, intelligence, and ability, of 
great personal attractions, of exquisite grace, re 
finement, and loveliness of character in short, 
qualified in every particular to train the daughters 
of the South, of whom a considerable number 
were at once readily confided to their care. Sister 
Thecla was a woman of a noble type, strong, able, 
thoughtful, a great soul. It will be at once con 
ceded, by those who knew them, that they who 
were sent to Memphis in 1873 were the flower of 
the Sisterhood of that day. 

Scarcely had they commenced their work, when 
that terrible disease, the yellow-fever, appeared in 
Memphis. They immediately wrote to New York, 
and asked permission to remain at their posts and 
nurse the sick It was granted ; and so these three 
* Miss Louise Caroline Darling, of Boston, Mass. 



MEMPHIS, 8 1 

or four, of whom not one had had experience in 
epidemic disease, and whose special work was that 
of teaching, found themselves in the novel position 
of hospital sisters in a plague-stricken community. 
The summer passed; the fever ceased; and they 
resumed their proper work in the school, of which 
the opening had been postponed till late in the 
autumn of that year. 

But worse things were to come. Five years 
later, as the summer of 1878 crept in with stealthy 
tread, there were rumours of a new visitation of 
the enemy ; and in the month of August of that 
year, the yellow-fever was once more pronounced 
epidemic in Memphis. This time it came with 
tenfold force and fury. 

Sister Constance and Sister Thecla were absent. 
At the closing of the School they had gone North, 
for greatly needed rest and change of air. On 
the 1 5th of August, the news reached them at St. 
Gabriel s, that Memphis was in confusion, and 
that thousands were flying from the place. This 
was two weeks only from the time of their arrival 
in New York : and without the loss of an hour 
their preparations were made, their farewells were 
said, and they were on the way back to Tennes 
see. A priest had hardly time to commit them to 
the mercy of God, when they were gone. 



82 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

It was a striking contrast: on the one hand, 
crowds flying in terror, escaping by carriages, 
wagons, carts, and even on foot ; moody men, 
trembling women and children : on the other a 
few brave souls, with equal resolution, speeding 
into the valley of death ; men of the medical pro 
fession, clergymen helping to assist the dying, 
hospital nurses, and the calm-faced daughters of 
the lyord seeking Him in His despairing people. 

The little band on whom this storm burst con 
sisted of the following persons : 

The Rev. George C. Harris, D.D., Dean of St. 
Mary s Cathedral; 

The Rev. Charles C. Parsons, Rector of Grace 
Church, Memphis; 

Sister Constance, Superior; 

Sister Thecla, teacher in St. Mary s School; 

Sister Hughetta, teacher in St. Mary s School; 

Sister Francis, in charge of the Church Orphan 
Home; 

Mrs. C. Bullock and Miss Margaret Murdoch, 
both residents at the Sisters House. 

To these were subsequently added: 

The Rev. I/>uis S. Schuyler; 
The Rev. Wm. T. D. Dalzell; 



MEMPHIS. 83 

Sister Ruth, and Sister Helen, sent from Trin 
ity Hospital; 
Sister Clare, of St. Margaret s, East Grinstead. 

The Sisters House was turned into a dispen 
sary and store-house of supplies ; the Orphan 
House was similarly utilized. At the re 
quest of the Relief Association, they also took 
charge of the " Canfield Asylum," on the 29th of 
August. 

The work was incessant, like all work in time 
of violent epidemic disease. There were daily 
celebrations in the Cathedral ; the blessed Sacra 
ment was reserved, being constantly needed for 
the dying. In the narrative already referred to, 
many letters are given, pathetic, harrowing, terri 
ble, descriptive of the scenes about them and the 
awful distress. Sister Constance kept a little 
diary, up to August 3ist, when it ended. At 
that time Sister Thecla had been down but was 
better and at work again; 119 new cases had just 
been reported; and memoranda of death after 
death are strewn over the sad pages. 

At last they sent to St. Gabriel s for some help. 
Mother Harriet would have gone long before, 
was eager to go, but was positively forbidden to 
take the risk; the General commanding is not the 



84 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

proper person to lead the forlorn hope. Eager 
volunteers besought permission to go; two were 
selected, Sisters Ruth and Helen, whose training 
at Trinity Hospital, as nurses of the sick in that 
house, and in the worst places in the Fifth Ward 
seemed to have fitted them for that honourable 
service. Sister Ruth was in a retreat at St. Ga 
briel s when the summons came ; she left it at 
once, and on the 3ist of August, set off on her 
journey, with Sister Helen and Sister Clare. 
They arrived, Sept. 2d, and plunged at once into 
the tide of that fatal flood. 

On the yth of September the Rev. Mr. Parsons 
died ; the first to fall. Up to the time when he 
became ill, the daily celebration was made hi the 
Cathedral. Dr. Harris was already down ; they 
had no priest; they were alone with God. When 
this was known, many priests offered their ser 
vices to the Bishop of Tennessee; of whom the 
first to arrive was the Rev. lyouis S. Schuyler, truly 
an elect soul. It happened that he was at St. 
Gabriel s holding a service, when the news of the 
death of Mr. Parsons and the doubtful state of Dr. 
Harris came : he learned it as he left the Chapel 
early in the morning. On the 8th of September 
he was in Memphis, arriving on the day after Dr. 
Dalzell. 



MEMPHIS. 85 

The end was now near for Sisters Constance 
and Thecla, who thus far had borne the heaviest 
burden. On the yth they were both stricken and 
reported as very ill : that was the day on which 
Mr. Parsons died. A full account has been given 
of their passing. 

Sister Constance died September 8th, Sister 
Thecla s only fear being that she might be stricken 
before her Sister s soul should have entered into 
rest. 

On Thursday, the i2th, the brave soul of Sister 
Thecla departed. 

On Saturday, the i4th, Dr. Armstrong, a faith 
ful and beloved physician, died. 

On Monday, the i6th, Mrs. Bullock died. 

On Tuesday, the lyth, the Rev. I^ouis Schuyler 
died. 

On the same day, a few hours later, Sister Ruth 
died. 

On the 4th of October, after recovery and a re 
lapse, Sister Frances died. 

So the little band dwindled away. 

On that 1 8th of September, they received, at 
Trinity Hospital, New York, this despatch: 



Sister Ruth entered into rest last night. 
Beati mortui. 



86 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET, 

" Only Sister Helen remains to be smitten of 
the fever. 

" Sister Hughetta and Sister Clare are doing 
well." 

It would be impossible, without long extracts 
from the letters of that period, to give an adequate 
idea of the beauty and dignity of those transla 
tions to the place beyond this vale of sorrow ; of 
Sister Thecla, suffering greatly, but patient 
through it all, her whole soul set on the I/ord, 
chiding those about her who would have helped 
her in her agony, with the remonstrance, I was 
with Jesus and you have disturbed me " ; of the 
dear little Sister Ruth, beloved of all who knew 
her, dear to the children and poor in the New 
York slums, so quaintly mirthful, so bright, so 
cheery ; of Schuyler, and Parsons, brave men as 
ever lived; and finally, of Sister Constance, whose 
name, now after nearly twenty years, is a great 
power for devotion and righteousness wherever it 
is known. 

She described with her own hand, soon to be 
relaxed in death, one of the last pictures seen by 
her in this world: 

" Yesterday I found two young girls, who had 
spent two days in a two-room cottage, with the 
unburied bodies of their parents, their uncle in 



MEMPHIS. 87 

the utmost suffering and delirium, and no one 
near them but a rough negro drayman who held 
the sick man in his bed. It was twenty-four 
hours before I could get those two fearful corpses 
buried, and then I had to send for a police officer 
to the Board of Health before any undertaker 
would enter that room. One grows perfectly 
hardened to these things carts with eight or nine 
corpses in rough boxes are ordinary sights. I 
saw a nurse stop one day and ask for a certain 
man s residence the negro driver just pointed 
over his shoulder with his whip at the heap of 
coffins behind him and answered, I ve got him 
here in his coffin. 



Sister Ruth, ere she followed her, gave some 
graphic sketches of her dear Superior s death. 
She spoke often of the children, the orphans ; 
sometimes she repeated I^atin verses ; sometimes 
it was her accounts that disturbed her mind ; 
but in her delirium she was sweet and gentle, 
her voice always soft and low. She received 
the blessed Sacrament from Dr. Dalzell, who had 
just arrived to relieve the dead or dying priests: 
her eyes lit up. At the foot of the chalice were 
some white roses, almost the only ones then to 
be seen. At intervals she repeated the Hf and $ > 
" O God, make speed to save us. O I<ord make 
haste to help us." About midnight she cried 
aloud, " Hosanna" ; at 10 A.M. it was all over. 



88 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

This is, in brief, the story of Memphis. It may 
be imagined how deep were the pain and anguish 
of those who, from a distance, looked on, unable 
to help save with their prayers. But in the record 
of the Community this is the page most brill 
iantly illuminated with the colours and the gold. 

Were there a similar trial to be sustained to 
day, no doubt the Sisters would embrace the occa 
sion with the same enthusiasm : they know the 
value, the help, the moral and spiritual power flow 
ing from such instances of devotion to the divine 
Master. As for the Southern Branch of the Com 
munity, they have felt, more deeply perhaps than 
it has been felt elsewhere, the benediction of that 
bitter baptism of suffering and pain : a very pro 
found religious impression seems to give a pecu 
liar tone to their work, a marked cast to their 
habit of mind. Those who fell on the field of 
duty may have been permitted to aid and 
strengthen others who never saw them, but to 
whom they were more a reality of the present 
than a memory of the past. 

And now I shall add some words about a 
strange affair, which, if what we have been told 
is true, illustrates the power of a name and the 
force of an example. It is just to the Sisters to 
state that they have not desired that anything 



MEMPHIS. 89 

should be said outside on the subject, and that I 
proceed on my own responsibility, taking the risk 
of their disapproval. I refer to certain circum 
stances attending the death of a Sister who 
departed this life at Memphis, on the night 
immediately following Christmas Day, in 1887, 
after a distressing illness of a year s duration. 
There are several statements of what occurred, 
with some details which may be set down as 
fantastic, and unworthy of repetition ; but after 
carefully winnowing and sifting the mass, we 
come to the following particulars involving 
dates and matters of fact and not of fancy. It 
seems that during the month of November, in 
the year mentioned, this Sister had what she be 
lieved to be a revelation, made to her through 
Sister Constance, informing her of the precise 
date of her death, with minute specifications; that 
she related this at the time, and that her death did 
actually occur exactly as predicted. On or about 
the 1 5th of the month, after having received the 
Blessed Sacrament, she informed those present 
that she had seen Sister Constance in her room near 
her bed. Some days later she further stated, after 
a night of great suffering, that Sister Constance 
had come to her again, and sat beside her, and 
soothed her pain ; and that on being asked how 



90 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

long she had to live, she was told, Until Christ 
mas." She then said to Sister Constance, " I 
hoped to make my Communion on Christmas ; 
and that Sister Constance replied, You will do 
so." Having further expressed a fear lest her 
death might cast a cloud on the children s festivi 
ties she was told : You will not die till late on 
Christmas night, and before then you will be bet 
ter, and suffer less, and the time will not seem 
long." 

They tried, it seems, to persuade Sister Isabelle 
that this was a hallucination, and the effect of ex 
cited nerves; but she insisted that it was not a 
dream, but had occurred precisely as she had 
related it. And in that conviction she became 
composed and calm, and so spent the time; and 
everything turned out exactly as had been pre 
dicted. On Christmas Eve she was well enough 
to sit up in her bed, and help to prepare the deco 
rations for the Cathedral, and dress dolls and fill 
cornucopias for the children. On Christmas 
morning she received the Sacrament with great 
joy; soon after she became unconscious, and in 
the ensuing night, at 2.20 A.M., she died. 

That night a Sister dreamed that she saw an 
angel standing over against the city who an 
nounced that he had come to bear away the soul 



MEMPHIS. 91 

of Sister Isabelle; she awoke and said a prayer 
for the dying, and looked at her watch, noting 
the time as 20 minutes past 2. A little child who 
was devoted to Sister Isabelle awoke her mother 
in the night, exclaiming that she had seen in her 
dream Sister Isabelle entering into Paradise. 
One of the younger Associates, living in Constan 
tinople, dreamed that same night that she saw the 
heavens opened and our Lord receiving Sister 
Isabelle. 

These are the particulars of that strange case. 
Let each reader make of it what he will. It may 
be set down as a psychological incident, or a 
spiritual experience, or the result of imagination, 
or a delusion. Members of the Community have 
taken different views of the matter, as was to be 
expected; we quarrel with no sceptic, and do not 
insist on conformity with our own opinion. But 
considering the nearness of the visible and invisi 
ble worlds, and what is included expressly or by 
implication in the doctrine of the " Communion 
of Saints"; considering that the Religious Life 
where faithfully led, must act to loosen the bands 
of the flesh, and open the eyes of the spirit; con 
sidering that there are things in heaven and earth 
not dreamed of in our low and material philoso 
phies ; considering, to use the words of Keble, 



92 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

that those "pure spirits" beyond may and do 
soothe and haunt us night and day ; consider 
ing that God has often revealed things in dreams 
and visions, and that His angels are in close and 
intimate relations to the pilgrims of this night; 
we take leave to avow our belief in these and many 
like things, as having actually occurred, and are 
not ashamed to stand in the company of John 
Mason Neale,* Father Maturin, Frederick George 
Lee,f Wm. J. Knox Little, t and other firm be 
lievers in the Unseen World and in the possibility 
and likelihood of intercourse between the inhabi 
tants of that world and us who are living here for 
a season. 

The Reverend Mother was very much interested 
in this matter both as a psychological incident 
and a special experience ; but what her opinion 
about it was, she never told me, nor might it 
have been discreet to enquire too closely. 

The Mother Superior never ceased lamenting 

* "The Unseen World ; Communication with it, Real or 
Imaginary." By J. Mason Neale, D.D. ad ed. Joseph 
Masters, London, 1853. 

t " Glimpses of the Supernatural." By the Rev. Fred 
erick George Lee. 2 vols. London, 1875. 

\ " The Broken Vow. A Story of Here and Hereafter." 
By W. J. Knox Little, Canon Residentiary of Worcester 
and Vicar of Hoar Cross, Staffordshire. 3d edition . Lon 
don, Chapman & Hall, 1887. 



MEMPHIS. 93 

the loss sustained by her and her children in the 
taking away of those noble and holy women. 
For years Sister Constance and the rest were an 
abiding memory, like the habit of a perpetually 
present sorrow. Again and again has the writer 
heard her lament, as one bereaved indeed, the loss 
of such daughters as those whom the Heavenly 
Bridegroom removed from sight for a while. The 
following summer was one of great anxiety lest 
the terrible scourge should be again inflicted on 
that unhappy place. A letter on that point, writ 
ten in 1879, illustrates what all were dreading: 

" I try not to think what the summer may be, 
only to be prepared, as far as may be, for what 
ever it shall please our Great High Priest to send 
us. Keep me informed of everything, which may 
seem to speak of the fever. I would not think 
it best for Sister E or Mrs. M to be ex 
posed to it, if it is possible to save them from 
such exposure without injury to others. My 
own dear Sister, I understand so well what is in 
your heart when you say you can think of a long 
time of suffering with a wish to suffer. I should 
not dare to say it was presumption in your case. 
May our dear Lord give to you, and to me, what 
we most need for our sanctification : may we so 
yield ourselves to the operation of the Holy Ghost 
as in all things to be, and do, what He would 
have us be, and what He would have us do. 

" With dearest love for all, 

Affectionately your Mother in our 
" Blessed Lord." 



VIII. 
LETTERS. 

MY acquaintance with the Reverend Mother 
began about the year 1865. She was one 
of those persons who make an impression 
which no lapse of time can efface. Probably she 
owed to her remote French ancestors certain 
striking characteristics in her bearing and actions; 
her vivacity, her brightness, the conversational 
charm which she possessed; her sympathetic in 
terest in everything which came under her inspec 
tion. She had a very keen sense of humour, a 
ready wit, and a merry laugh which was irresisti 
ble ; she had the high-bred air distinctive of those 
of gentle birth; a lady, all through. She re 
minded me of St. Theresa, as described by her 
biographer, Cardinal Manning ; there were the 
same simplicity of character, directness of pur 
pose, activity of motion, humility of soul, self- 
deprecation, which marked the Spanish woman ; 
94 



LETTERS. 95 

indeed Mother Harriet, as I found out, had a 
special admiration of Sister Theresa, and a great 
love of her, and, no doubt, unconsciously, made 
her a model in practice. She was a great worker, 
and a great traveller, making long journeys from 
point to point, visiting the Sisters, wherever scat 
tered abroad, and keeping herself informed of 
everything relating to themselves, their lives, and 
their respective houses in the East, the West, and 
the South. As a business woman, she would 
have taken a high place among men of that class; 
thoroughly versed in whatever she needed to 
know, wisely administering the financial affairs 
of the Sisterhood, watchful, prudent, forecasting. 
She had a heart full of sympathy for the troubles 
of others; she shared the sorrows of each one of 
her spiritual daughters; she was their confidant 
and comforter. She suffered keenly whenever, 
in that family of hers, anything went wrong; 
when dissension troubled the domestic peace; 
when tempers proved incompatible; when work 
ers had to be changed from place to place; when 
some lapsed and left their associates for alien 
relations; when, as in some cases, unfortunate 
women looked back, became discouraged, and 
reverted to a world which they had renounced 
with vows destined, alas ! to be broken. Infinite 



96 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

patience, unwearied love, unfailing pity were in 
her soul; a strong desire for her own sanctifica- 
tion and that of all with whom she had to do. 
As the slow years passed, bringing 

" Many a sorrow, many a tear," 

one could see the furrowed lines of care deepening 
on the features of her on whom that heavy load 
was laid, but her bright, cheerful, hopeful spirit 
never failed; within was calm and steadfast resolu 
tion ; that well of delightful good humour still sent 
forth its fresh and sparkling streams to gladden 
and brighten the vale of misery; her trust in God 
and her Beloved grew stronger, and the refrain of 
the latter years was the ardent desire for the rest 
of the Paradise of God. Perhaps no one has ever 
more fully illustrated in her life work, through all 
its stages, these words, written in the breviary of 
the Saint with whose spirit her own dwelt in such 
harmony and affection : 

" Let nothing disturb thee, 
Let nothing affright thee. 
All passeth away, 
God only shall stay. 
Patience wins all. 
Who hath God needeth nothing, 
For God is his all." 



LETTERS, 97 

An early Associate of the Sisterhood sent me 
some valuable and appreciative observations, 
drawn from her long and loving intimacy with 
the Mother, first as Sister Harriet, and then as 
the Superior, from which I make this extract : 

" My own feeling is that the Mother s especial 
characteristic was the virtue of Hope, or perhaps 
I should say the Charity that hopeth all 
things. Before I had ever seen her, and shortly 
after the foundation of the Sisterhood of St. 
Mary, I was told what struck me so forcibly that 
I have always remembered it ; one of the Sisters 
had been talking about making a quest for 
money, and Sister Agnes said she thought it 
would be more important to seek candidates. 
Sister Harriet (as she was called then, indeed I 
believe I was one of the very first who called her 
Mother, before some of her own Sisters) answered 
that she always expected to go down to the door 
some morning, and see a whole row of women 
asking to be admitted into the Community. Cer 
tainly her prediction was fulfilled in a way she 
could hardly have imagined herself in those days 
of small things. 

" She was always very kind to me, from the 
time when I first knew her, through going to the 
Sheltering Arms to work for a little while. To 
manage the large tables full of children at meals 
was rather beyond my powers, and she came 
down so kindly to help me enforce discipline, and 
show the unruly children they would not be 
allowed to misbehave, tho the one in charge was 
not a Sister. 



98 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

She was so fond, in later life, of the text 
Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and 
die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth 
forth much fruit. I have heard her dwell upon 
that as a kind of epitome of what should be the 
life of a religious community, in speaking of 
various tribulations and trials through which their 
own had had to pass. I think she felt sacrifice 
to be the essential of the Religious L,ife, for the 
individual and the Community so strongly." 



The correspondence of the Reverend Mother 
must have been immense. Her letters are care 
fully preserved in the houses of the Sisterhood as 
sacred treasures. If these were accessible to the 
general reader they would present that character 
in the light in which it has been portrayed; but 
that, of course, cannot be. A selection of them 
has been most kindly sent to me for examination 
and publication in this memoir. 

I found the selection difficult, says the Sis 
ter who sent them, " because the letters which 
were most characteristic and telling, often had 
personal references to individuals or situations 
which made me shrink from sending them. I 
have arranged the letters under subjects, hoping 
to save trouble. The arrangement may not 
always be obvious, but I think something may be 
saved." 



LETTERS. 99 

The arrangement shall be followed, in the 
transcription, although even these may have to 
be somewhat further pruned. They will be read 
with deeper interest, particularly by those younger 
members of the Community who knew the Mother 
less intimately, and by those who are to come 
after. These words of hers constitute a legacy 
to them, which will be reverently accepted and 
affectionately preserved. The reader will often 
find, in the preceding memoir, the explanation of 
matters referred to in the correspondence. 

VOCATION. 

"St. Mary s, Rockaway Beach, 

"Aug. i4th. 

My very dear Sister : 

" I received your letter on Tuesday of last 
week, and should have replied before, but for the 
coming here. Sister S returned on Wednes 
day evening, and I had many things to look after, 
that I might be free to leave on Thursday even 
ing for New York. On Friday evening I came 
here; here at last, after the long waiting for a 
little rest and sea air. I should like to answer 
your letter in detail, but I know it is best for me 
just now not to write long letters. I am satis 
fied, nay I am more than that, I am sure that it 
is God s will that you should serve Him in the 
Religious Life, and that in His Providence you 



100 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

were led to seek that life in this Community ; and 
I truly believe that as you surrender your whole 
being more perfectly and entirely to the Divine 
Will, so your vocation will become clearer to you 
and you will marvel at the hesitation and the 
holding back of the past. We may not look for 
perfect unity of * opinion in a Community : there 
must be diversity ; it is impossible that all should 
think alike on minor points, and even in graver 
matters there will be differences. On general 
principles there must be agreement. With a lov 
ing heart I say, my very dear Sister, come back 
to us, and with us fight manfully unto your life s 
end. 

" The Retreat will be somewhat shorter than 
usual, for various reasons; it will begin with Ves 
pers on Monday, Aug. 28th, and close on the 
morning of Saturday, Sept. 2d. I should like 
you to reach St. Gabriel s on Saturday, Aug. 
26th. . . . 

I hope to have at least two weeks here for my 
treatment, which consists in breathing the charm 
ing sea air and taking a few sea baths, and being 
with forty or fifty children ; but I do not mind 
their noise so long as I am not responsible for 
them. I hope to take my first sea bath to night. 

Sister is here and looking so well and 

strong. 

" With dearest love, believe me, ever most 
affectionately yours in Xt, 

"THE MOTHER." 

* A blot appears on the sheet at the side, with this 
explanation : "A mosquito caused this blot." No won 
der, at Rockaway ! 



LETTERS. IOI 

" St. Gabriel s, Peekskill, 
" Dec. 



" My Dear Sister : 

1 I think of you now as hard at work in the 
great city of Chicago (Sister F - s pet). I 
imagine you will become greatly interested and 
absorbed in mission work; it is always fascinating 
and it is quite unlike your work of the past few 
years. I trust all will go well; but in every 
house we find trials awaiting us ; we must meet 
them, not in our own strength, but in the strength 
of the Great Master, who never fails us, if we 
leave all in His hands. You are now, as it were, 
making a new beginning. Dr. Pusey somewhere 
says, our whole life is one of new beginnings; and 
so it is, falling and rising again, time after time. 
. . . I think you know I cannot do much let 
ter writing on account of my eyes, but you must 
write to me from time to time. My dear love to 
Sisters F - and C - . 

Affectionately yours, 

" THE MOTHER." 

" St. Gabriel s School, 
" Peekskill, N. Y. 

"Oct. 28th, - . 



My dear Sister : 

" I am sure you are enjoying the old home 
faces and having a quiet time with your Sisters. 
I think of giving you to Sister Eleanor for a while 
to work in the Trinity Mission, but it is not fully 
settled yet. . . . We are filling up the 
vacant places in the Novitiate. Sisters M 



102 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

M and B P are in New York at St. 

Mary s Hospital; in their places we have four 
minor postulants in the Choir: we have three, 
and soon will have four, Choir Postulants. It is 
wonderful how God calls one after another to 
leave all and follow Him, and still the labourers 
are few. We cannot begin to answer the calls 
upon us for work." 

MOTIVES TO WORK IN DEDICATED LIFE. 

" St. Gabriel s, 
" Peekskill, 

" Oct. igth . 

1 My Dear Sister J . 

Many thanks for your nice letter. Do you 
know, it so happens that the month of September 
brought me, first your letter, then one from Sis 
ter I/ , then one from Sister J ; and I 

hope to answer each one before the last day of 
October comes upon us, altho I am not much up 
to letter writing ; almost everything I try to do is 
done by a great effort. . . . Father Allen s 
sister has just died, and she is to be buried 
at Po keepsie. She once thought of coming to 
us. No, dear Sister, it cannot matter what work 
we do, because we do all to the glory of God, and 
to Him. Whether we offer the work of the hands, 
or the work of the intellect, it matters not. We 
are living in a very wicked world, and judgment 
upon it cannot be far away, ijet us have our 
lamps trimmed, our ears alert to hear the voice 
of the Bridegroom, for He will surely come, He 
will not tarry. 



LETTERS. 103 

" We have a very large household this year; 
the school is very full, and everybody is very 
busy. We have made a refectory of the little 
parlour, for the use of the School : if the Sisters 
had a house to go into, the School would soon turn 
us out of our present one. Thus far it does not 
seem to be God s will that we should begin our 
Convent, and I am content to do His will. With 
very dear love for you and all, 

Affectionately yours, 

"THE MOTHER." 



" St. Gabriel s, Nov. 13, 1891. 
" My dearest Sister : 

Yes : it is some time since I have written to 
you, but I know you will forgive me. I have 
been so pressed at every turn, and my eye is 
very weak, and I am often obliged to stop in the 
midst of my writing and give that one eye a rest. 
It does not pain me in the least but is very, very 
weak. I spent two weeks at , and on my re 
turn found such a load of work ! I was days and 
days getting at the bottom of it. . . . I will 
not write of all that is in my mind concerning the 
action of the Society.* The Church is certainly 
passing through a great crisis, and I may say, 
Religious Orders through a still greater crisis than 
even the Church. I feel like one who is holding 
on to some tender, small tree, the tree looking as 
if there was scarcely anything to hold on to, yet 
feeling sure that the root, which one could not 
see, was firm, strong, solid, and would not fail 

* The reference is to the Evangelist Fathers. 



IO4 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

one. . . . The lesson of detachment is a very 
hard lesson for most of us to learn. ... I 
hope the points of the Chapter * would have been 
sent before this. . . . The point about the 
Offices was not one of my points. I suppose the 
idea in the minds of the Sisters was, that it was 
an occasional thing happening seldom. I should 
be very sorry to have the memorials left out, ex 
cept now and then in case of necessity. Are you 
quite sure that the Offices must be so said ? I 
fancied, with school work, Sext and Nones could 
be managed separately for the most part. . . . 

My special love to dear Sister H. T and to 

all. I am having many worries just now; if one 
had only some one to look to for help ! but such is 
not God s will, and there must be perfect trust 
and no murmuring." 

ACCEPTANCE OF THE WIU, OF GOD. 

" Feby. 2 5 th. 
Dearest Sister : 

Your letter of yesterday was very discourag 
ing. I shall anxiously await the word of the 
Chicago doctor. I understand the I think. I 
cannot feel that dearest Sister will not get better, 
yet I fear. May we all accept lovingly whatever 
God has in store for us concerning our beloved. 
It pleased Him to take my first Sister Constance ; 
if it is His will to take my second Sister Constance 

* Prior to the meetings in Chapter, a list of topics to be 
considered appears to have been sent to each one entitled 
to a place and a vote. 



LETTERS. 105 

it must be right. Give love to the precious in 
valid from us all : we pray constantly for her, and 
also for our dear Sister A . 

" I trust you will have that supernatural 
strength given you which you need, for only the 
supernatural can help you to bear all cheerfully. 

Ever lovingly in our Blessed Lord, 

"THE MOTHER." 



" St. Gabriel s, 
"Junes, 1884. 

My very dear Sister : 

I am good for nothing to-day, not feeling at 
all well, but I must manage to answer your letter. 
. . . I always say, if there exists the need, 
and one has counted the cost as in the sight of 
God, one must undoubtedly make the venture of 
faith, believing that the Lord will provide ; it 
would be difficult for me to express in words how 
very strong that feeling is with me. 
Our little addition gives us a nice class-room, and 
six alcoves, each containing an entire window. 
This, including the fitting up of the alcoves, put 
ting in gas pipes, etc., etc., cost $1200, and it has 
been paid from the school receipts of the year. I 
suppose you will use brick .* Not having that 
interest to pay gives a chance of meeting ex 
penses. I hope the Trustees will not borrow 
money to pay it and so increase the debt. I can 
not remember telling you that the first few years 
the interest was all at 8 and 10 per cent. You 
can imagine the drain on the School fund: I was 

* The reference is to work at Kenosha. 



106 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

amazed; it seemed like usury to me. I think now 
it is all reduced to 6 pr. ct. . . . You will 
have to be wonderfully busy to get ready for the 
Retreat in the short interim of School closing and 
Retreat beginning. You are fortunate in having 
Father Maturin again. We shall remember the 
Mission." 



" St. Gabriel s, Sept. 7, 1885. 

Dearest Sister : 

" I take it for granted the telegram was reed, 
and that our dear Sister is by this time safely at 
St. Paul s: the change will be good for her in ad 
dition to the medical advice. . . . The day 
for the Profession is not yet determined upon: I 
will write as soon as I know, if only a postal. 
. . . I feel greatly distressed when I realize 
how I have failed to rise up to the difficulties of 
the past year, which certainly have been great, 
yet their greatness is no excuse for my spiritual 
weakness nor do I know that I ought to excuse 
anything on account of physical weakness, yet 
that too has been very great. I wonder some 
times how it came about that I should be so ner 
vously unstrung : that is passing off and we will 
hope that it will soon be all gone." 

The following letter refers to a visit to a Sister 
hood which had been established in Toronto, in 
the Dominion of Canada. The Sisters of St. 
Mary felt a great interest in it, for the reason 



LETTERS. 



that the founders were trained in New York, so 
that it was, as it were, a mission offshoot of their 
own Community. Mother Harriet speaks of it 
in a letter written at St. Gabriel s, as follows: 

\ 

11 We had two Novices admitted this morning: 
one is for the Canada Sisterhood. I think you 
know we are training two Canadians to be re 
turned to Toronto, to found there a Sisterhood. 
Sister Hannah, who is to be the Superior, will 
probably be professed in September and go di 
rectly to Toronto. Sister Hannah goes to New 
York this week to get a little insight into our 
work in the city ; you may see her at the Infirm 
ary, Varick St. It has been very pleasant to have 
the training of these two Sisters : one would 
hardly have thought that St. Mary s would have 
trained two Englishwomen for the Religious I/ife. 
God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to 
perform. " 

" St. Gabriel s, Peekskill, 
"April 21, 1886. 

My very dear Sister : 

" You will think me long in writing, but the 
days are so full just now. I reached Toronto in 
good time, without mishap of any sort or kind. I 
found no one awaiting me ; my letter did not 
reach Mother Hannah in time; but I easily ob 
tained a carriage and was soon at my destination. 
I had a very charming visit, all were so kind. I 
had two drives, seeing all that was worth seeing 



IO8 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

of Toronto. The Sisters are very pleasantly situ 
ated, and are getting on nicely in every way. At 
present, the novitiate consists of three Novices 
and three Postulants. Nursing is quite a feature 
of their work. I left Toronto at 3.55 on Saturday 
afternoon, and was obliged to change cars three 
times before reaching Peekskill, at which place I 
arrived safely on Sunday morning at 10 o clk. 

I found Sister F very ill ; congestion of the 

lungs; one of the maids also very ill with lung 
trouble; this morning she passed away into that 
other world ; she was one of our own people, and 
not a Romanist; we are glad about that. She 
will be buried from here, probably on Saturday. 
She was a good girl ; she was able to receive the 
Blessed Sacrament yesterday morning. Sister 
Agnes is not so well ; there can be no thought of 
her going far from home : I begin to fear that she 

may not rally from this illness. Sister S or 

myself will go down to see her directly after 
Easter. I feel as if the next autumn would bring 
with it great difficulties, but I know that what 
ever comes, all is from a loving God, and I trust 
we may all be guided and strengthened to meet 
whatever trials may be in store for us. I thought 
so constantly of you, dear Sister, after our parting 
at the station; the returning alone to Kemper 
Hall ; but I am so sure you are able to bear this sor 
row, to accept lovingly God s will for you. May 
we not believe that the spirit of our sweet Sister 
will hover over the house, and that you and all 
will feel the nearness? With dearest love for 
you and all, 

" Lovingly, 

"THE MOTHER." 



LETTERS. 



" St. Gabriel s, March 28, 1888. 
My very dear Sister : 

1 I must write you a line to-day because it is 
March 28th, and we remember that two years 
ago the soul of our sweet Sister passed away, en 
tering into that life eternal, that new life that 
knows no ending. To-day it is Wednesday ; that 
other day it was Sunday, the Lord s Day ; so 
fitting for our dear Sister to go to Him on His 
own Day.* 

" I received your note about the change of 
quarters in Chicago. I do so want to see the 
Chicago home! Our Novitiate has not had as 
many recruits this last year: I dare say it will 
soon take a fresh start again soon. I have several 
letters just now about candidates. 

With dearest Easter love for all, 

Affectionately yours. 

" St. Gabriel s, Nov. n, 1890. 

My very dear Sister : 

I am afraid you will think I have quite for 
gotten you, it is so long since I have written: 
dearest Sister, believe me, I do not forget you 
even for a moment, nor do I forget the little 
points you ask me about. I have a little box and 
drop into it the queries from time to time as I re 
ceive them. I have been so very, very busy, and 
I have not always felt up to letter writing, when 

* It will be remembered that the Mother herself had 
the honour of being taken on Easter Day. 



110 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

the writing could be postponed. You can hardly 
think how I long for Kemper Hall to be almost 
the very same as the Mother House.* God in 

His wisdom took from it our precious Sister E 

who seemed so necessary from our point of view; 

now He may will to take Sister H T , and 

if we could have our way, how we would have 
both with us, would we not ? Yet we know without 
a shadow of doubt that all things work together 

for good. Sister E s balancing power was 

something wonderful, still God willed that the 
work was to go on without her. 

CURRENT EVENTS IN THE CHURCH. 

Alluding to the defection of Father Rivington, 
one of the Society of St. John the Evangelist, she 
writes: 

"St. Mary s, 8 E. 46th St. 
"April i 3 th, 

I have before me your letter of woes. I mean, 
however, to look on the bright side of it just now. 
I say to myself : I would rather hear that one 
of my dear Sisters had entered Paradise, than to 
hear she had left the Church of her baptism for 
the Church of Rome. I mean, any Sister of mind 
and position. I do not, of course, mean just any 
Sister, whose mental powers one could not hold 

* This seems to be a reference to her wish for a kind 
of provincial arrangement of the branches in the South 
and West. 



LETTERS. Ill 

in esteem. Father Rivington s action passes my 
comprehension. 

She made several visits to England. Previous 
to one of these she writes : 



" I wish very much to go to England this 
spring, and study up a few points concerning re 
ligious Orders: if any kind Associate will give us 
a little money I can manage it, but we cannot 

afford the expense. I should take Sister C 

with me. But alas ! for the filthy lucre ! where is 
it to come from ? " 



" St. Gabriel s, Peekskill, 
" Nov. 14, 1883. 

My very dear Sister : 

" I have your nice, long letter; also the little 
note telling me of the case of fever, which I hope 
most earnestly is not a very serious one. Thus 
far we have gotten on without much illness, a few 
little ailments only. 

" I did not enter much into the Prayer Book 
matters as handled at the Convention ; I hardly 
know what was proposed. . . . You know 
all about the translation of our dear Dr. Ewer; I 
was one of his admirers. Have you heard of the 

death of our sweet L,ily D ? only twelve hours 

illness, and her pure spirit departed : the idol of 
the family and loved by all who knew her. I 
grieve for her dear mother and father; the latter 
seems utterly crushed. ... As you see, I am 



112 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

Monarch of all I survey, Community, Noviti 
ate, Housekeeping, etc., etc. We are making 
additional refectory room for the children. We 
have a young girl with us as candidate for the 
Minors; I hope she will remain and go on." 

ANNIVERSARIES OF PROFESSIONS. 

"Jany. 25, 1887. 

" Just a word of love on this your day. I am 
reminded of the poem, We are Seven. Our 
seventh is at rest, the six still toiling on in this 
lower world, doing His will most imperfectly, 
while our seventh, may we not believe, thinks 
of us, joins her prayers with ours, as she does that 
will more perfectly in her Paradise of Rest in the 
Heavenly Home. The day is very beautiful here, 
and the two of the seven here are unusually well 
and bright. . . . On Thursday, if all is well, 

I propose to start for Memphis Sister H is 

to go with me. I feel that I must give all the 
time I have to spare from here to Memphis, and 
I ought to be back by the end of March, I hope 
before the 28th. This year that day falls in Pas 
sion Week." 

" , , 1888. 

This is your day with all its beautiful lessons 
and all its memories of joy and sadness. I can 
scarcely realize so many years have passed since 
that Profession Day. . . . Our day is almost 
here ; we shall probably have the usual Chapter 
on the Octave of the Purification." 



LETTERS. 113 

VACATIONS FOR SISTERS. 

It seems to have been a part of the duty of the 
Reverend Mother to plan the vacations so that 
the workers might be relieved and the work go 
on. Many letters are taken up with these ar 
rangements, involving much thought and consid 
eration. 



1 I sent the telegram : I am quite clear that 
Sister F should go to her mother at this junc 
ture: as to who shall be sent to Chicago, I am 
uncertain." 

I sent the night telegram begging you to set 
off to Clifton as soon as possible. Your letter was 
delayed again, being sent to that unknown place 
that once before took one of your letters about 
dear Sister. I am glad the Retreat was so fully 
attended and appreciated. How wonderful are 
God s ways! And how much He permits us, 
poor weak mortals, to do for Him ! 

" St. Mary s, Rockaway. 

" I am just sending a telegram saying, by all 
means take the California trip. I am more than 
delighted at the proposal for you, it quite seems 
to cover the whole ground. Don t say, three 
weeks; say, four, five, yes, even six! Now as to 
crossing the sea another year : who can tell what 
may happen before another year comes round ? 



114 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

Do plan everything new without reference to that. 
I beg you will take full time and over. I know 
that the Sisters and Teachers will all be faithful 
ness itself, and it is so important that you have a 
change, absolute change and rest; important for 
you, and important for those working under you. 
We go to the city to-day. We have had two 
storms for my benefit (I love a high sea) and the 
two yachts passed us for our benefit also; so I had 
a full view of the great race of the season. I am 
writing in great haste, as everything must be 
packed away this morning." 

" St. Gabriel s. 

" I am just leaving here for N. Y. on Hospital 
business which seems to have neither beginning 
nor end ; it obliges me also to go to White Plains, 
and I am stealing a little time to write to you 

before I leave. . . . Sister J s aunt has 

secured a promise from us that she should pay her 
a visit: she will go directly her aunt returns, and 
then we will forward her to you. . . . Your 
month off, now: nothing must prevent you from 
going away for one full month, and leaving all 
your cares behind you. The Sisters are perfectly 
capable of going on, and you must, as I say, have a 
full month ; we will not put it four weeks, but one 
full month. You know, dear Sister, I am not an 
Autocrat, but you may call me such in this mat 
ter or give me any bad name you like, and I 11 
not say a word. As for the expenses, that is not 
to be mentioned; you are entitled to whatever 
you need, and you must be sure to do that which 
will be the most perfect rest to you. And now I 
have got to the end of my paper." 



LETTERS, 115 

" St. Gabriel s, July 31, 1894. 

We shall be delighted to see you and Sister 
once more, and have you with us for the 



Retreat, which begins with the Vespers of Mon 
day, Aug. 27th, and closes with the celebration on 
Saturday, Sept. ist. We could not take in a 
Sunday, as Father Benson was obliged to be in 
Boston for Sunday duty. I see no objection to 
your stopping over to consult the Doctor. . . . 
Oh, this heat! I am almost melting: it seems 
sometimes as if I could not endure another day, 
and vegetation is crying piteously for a little rain ; 
a little rain, but the little rain don t come." 

ENJOYMENT OF OFFICES. 

"St. Thomas Day, 
O Rex Gentium. 

" This is St. Thomas Day, and we are re 
minded that the Great Feast is very near. How 
beautiful the Great O s are, as day by day we 
approach the Feast ! * To say the Divine Office 

* Some of our readers may need to be informed that by 
the " Great O s" are meant the Antiphons to the Mag 
nificat sung during the third and fourth weeks of Advent ; 
they were as follows : 

Dec. 1 6th, O Sapientia. 

" lyth, O Adonai. 

" i8th, O Radix Jesse. 

" 19th, O Clavis David. 

" 2oth, O Oriens. 

" 22d, O Rex Gentium. 

" 23d, O Emmanuel. 



Il6 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

is indeed one of the great joys of the Religious 
I/ife: I love it more and more, although I have 
been compelled to give up Matins since that ill 
ness of mine. 



" St. Gabriel s, April 10, 1884. 

My dear Sister : 

"It is Maundy Thursday : our Matins and 
Lauds for this day, may I say it ? were perfect. I 
think the Office was never more beautifully ren 
dered in our Chapel than last night at 12. Oh! 
what a mystery this week is! Shall we under 
stand it all some day ? With dearest love for all, 
ever lovingly yours, in the Crucified One." 

" St. Gabriel s, Dec. 27, 1890. 
" My dear Sister : 

" I sent off a hasty scrap yesterday: now I will 
write not so hastily. 

We say the Peace of the Church on Advent 
Ember Days. There is no regulation as to absti 
nence when travelling ; a matter of that kind 
must be governed by circumstances; it might be 
best at one time, and not at all best at another 
time. Whenever Sext and Nones are said to 
gether it should be by aggregation : there should 
be no provision for any other way for saying the 
two Offices together. . . . We had our usual 
Christmas Offices; we began Matins at 10.45 an( i 
went on until 2. I was well tired when I went 
to my room, and not equal to rising at 6 A.M. 
All these years I have been able to have the mid- 



LETTERS. 117 

night services at Christmas and again in Holy 
Week. I wonder if I shall have many more. 
Tears are passing ; the time cannot be far off, 
when mine will no more be passing, but past. I 
send you a motto for the coming year.* I hope 
the sky will be a little clearer for you, dear Sister, 
as the days go by. We know our discipline comes 
from God, and we must vindicate God by our ac 
ceptance of it. Have you read Godet s Studies 
on the Old Testament ? If not, try to get the 
book and read his exposition of Job. With dear 
love, affectionately yours, 

"THE MOTHER." 



In another letter, which I have mislaid, she 
wrote to this effect: " The longer I live the more 
I delight in the study of the Bible : I am becom 
ing a Bible Christian. 1 

ILLNESS AND DEATH AMONG THE SISTERS. 

Of the letters entrusted to my care, none are 
more touching than those written on occasion of 
fatal illness and impending death in the Commu 
nity, or after the departure of some elect soul to 
the rest of Paradise. From these I hesitate to 
make many extracts : they might sadden and de 
press the reader, or appear like violations of the 

*The motto was, "Thy Will, Thy blessed Will, what 
ever it may be." 



Il8 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

sanctity of sorrow. But in them all comes out 
the loving tenderness of the Mother s heart, and 
they show how habitual was the thought of the 
vanity of life and the near approach of the end. 
Words of comfort and consolation abound ; sooth 
ing, tender words, which none knew better how 
to speak to the mourning heart. Some brief ex 
tracts will suffice, taken here and there from a 
large number now before my eye. The following 
contains an impressive description of a Christian 
transit hence. 

" Kemper Hall, Kenosha, Wis., 
" March 29, 1886. 

" My Dear Sister : 

" Our dear little Sister Elise passed away at 
the hour of Prime on Sunday morning, the first 
hour (ecclesiastical) of the Resurrection Day, and 
on the 28th of the month (four times seven). All 
through the day before she was very weak, and it 
seemed as if she could not survive the night; 
none of us went to bed. About twelve I went to 
my room, lying down dressed, thinking any mo 
ment I might be called ; but I was not called till 
I was preparing to go down to Prime. We were 
all with her. I read the short office from our 
Manual for the dying : then we all repeated the 
Creed and the I/>rd s Prayer. She ceased to 
breathe so quietly that we hardly knew the exact 

moment ; but Sister M C took out her 

watch, and it was precisely half past six. We 



LETTERS. 119 

then said the office in our Manual for one de 
parted ; lingered a few moments ; then went down 
to Chapel and said Prime without ringing the 
Chapel bell. The funeral service will be in the 
Chapel to-morrow morning : there will be two 
celebrations. I think I never knew a more quiet 
departure or more quiet illness. Everything in 
regard to the School went on as usual ; no noise 
disturbed Sister, and she wished everything to go 
on up to the last moment. A characteristic ill 
ness and death in her case, just as it was in Sister 
Esther s : and now we have another name to add 
to our March commemorations. Sister made her 
last Communion on Saturday at 12 noon." 

In this letter I find a slip of paper written in 
another hand; that of a priest who was there at 
the time. 

" Praise to God for the deliverance of Sr. Elise, 
a very sweet, true, pure soul, perfected through 
suffering and fit for Paradise." 

Sister Agnes will long be remembered as the 
accomplished and admirable head of St. Mary s 
School in 46th St. ; a wonderful woman, for the 
perfect calmness, quietness, and steadiness of her 
ways, and her great influence on all who came in 
contact with her ; nothing ever seemed to rufSe, 
disquiet, or trouble her. 

The Reverend Mother, in a letter written at St. 
Gabriel s, Nov. 4th, refers to her illness. 



I2O MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

" Sister Agnes is, I think, slowly but surely 
passing away. She still clings to the daily rou 
tine. I hope to see her soon, but I cannot be 

much away in Sister s absence. . . . We 

did not have a ceremonial procession to the Ceme 
tery on All Souls Day, but we all visited it, and 
laid our gifts of flowers and bright leaves on the 
graves of our beloved ones. The day was per 
fect." 

In another letter she gives some particulars of 
the transit of that brave, calm, earnest woman. 

"St. Mary s, E. 46th St. 
" April 28th. 

" Our dear Sister Agnes entered into rest on 
Thursday, April 2ist, at 10.15 A.M. She suffered 
very much all through her illness, and the last 
two days from great restlessness. . . . Sister 
was in the Community room, dressed as usual, on 
Tuesday morning, but at noon she said she felt so 
very ill she must go to bed. From that time she 
failed; and on Saturday we laid her to rest in our 
quiet Cemetery. Dr. Richey went up with us, as 
well as Dr. Houghton. All the funeral service 
was private. As we left the Cemetery a little 
robin on the top of a tree began singing with all 
his might. Dr. Houghton says, Who that was 
present can ever forget that song ? " 

A few more notes may be added to these pa 
thetic descriptions, taken here and there from the 
papers before me. 



LETTERS. 121 

" April 29, 1891. 

" I had a faint hope that our sweet little Sister 
Helen Theodora might rally with the warm 
weather, and possibly might be able to come 
home, and so finally rest with us here. But your 
letter makes it clear that this cannot be : give her 
my dearest, sweetest love, and tell her I had so 
hoped to see her once more. As I go into the 
Mortuary Chapel from time to time I often say 
to myself, who of us will first find rest here ? 
We have many delicate Sisters, now ; very many ; 
yet it may be that the strongest and least ailing 
will be the first called." 

I am reading with intense interest the Mys 
tery of Pain " ; I brought it with me from Mem 
phis." 

The weather is very hard upon me [written 
in August during great heat], and there is so 
much to do and so much to think about. The 
telegram telling us of the death of the All Saints 
Superior read Our Reverend Mother Rests. 
That one word, rests, how much is contained 
in it !" 

" Dec. 22d. 

" Before this reaches you, you will have entered 
into the Christmas joy, have taken the Christ 
Child afresh into your heart. May all Christmas 
joys be with you, and all the dear Sisters with 
you. I am thinking so much of our sweet Sis 
ter , as this precious season draws near. Be- 



122 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

fore determining the time of Sister S s visit, 

I would like to know as nearly as possible just 
how she is. I wish above all things that Sister 

S might be with her when those last hours 

seem to be very near: please write me how it is." 

"Jany. 12, 1888. 

" . . . . You have received before this the 

news of Miss M s death. Sisters, Postulants, 

Associates, one after the other, and pupils too ; 
all passing through the gate of death, all entering 

into the Blessed Presence. Miss M was 

ready for the change. Mary Parker we shall miss 
sorely ; she had given herself to God, and the 
offering was accepted. * 

" Feby. 6th. 

" . . . . A thousand thanks to you and all 
the dear Sisters for their loving remembrances. 
I steal a little time in the midst of our week f 
to write a few words for you all and to tell you 
that right in the midst of our week we say our 
last words over dear Sister Gabrielle. To-day we 
lay her away in her lonely bed : now she is in the 
Chapel, and her face is very sweet, and beautiful, 

* A memorial window bearing the name of this lovely 
young girl may be seen in the Trinity Mission House, 
No. 211 Fulton St. She was the only daughter of the 
Rev. Dr. Stevens Parker ; as pure a soul as ever passed 
hence into the light beyond. 

f The reference is to the anniversary of the Commu 
nity, and the Chapter then held each year. 



LETTERS. 



123 



and peaceful. . . . She never lost her con 
sciousness for one moment. She was only 22. 
In the midst of life we are in death. 



Referring to the death of another Sister and her 
burial at St. Gabriel s, she writes: 

She was one of the seven at your profession : 

she came between you and Sister F . Sister 

Eleanor went on to her and reached Augusta in 
time to be with her several hours. She especially 
asked to be taken to Peekskill for burial ; it 
seemed to have been much on her mind. Now, 
the Seven are divided ; five in the Church Mili 
tant, two in the Church Triumphant; and so, one 
by one, we go on our lonely journey, as one by 
one we entered into this world. . . . One by 
one we drop out and another takes our place; and 
so it will go on and on until that Second Coming. 

" Have you seen the book, Earth s Earliest 
Ages ? The author seems to think the world 
now is much as it was in the days of Noah ; 
touches upon the Theosophy of the present day, 
etc., etc. Well, we know God rules over all, 
while apparently Satan is having it all in his own 
way ; this Theosophy is certainly a special device 
of his to ruin souls." 



SCHOOL SUPERVISION. 



The charge of four large schools, with constant 
attention, not only to the expenditures and re- 



124 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

ceipts, but also to the details of the management 
of those institutions, one in the City of New York, 
another in Putnam County, a third in Wisconsin, 
and a fourth in Tennessee, must have been most 
exacting and laborious. Allusions to the school 
work are constant. A postcript to a letter writ 
ten at Rockaway Beach says: 

" K. H. has 64. 

"St. G. s 54; last year we managed to stow 
away 58; this year all are large girls; we can 
only manage for 54." 

Of Kemper Hall she writes: 

" Sister F seems wonderfully well again; I 

hope she may continue so; I am surprised to see 
how much she seems able to do. I think she has 
all her classes except Astronomy ; she could not 

go to the Observatory, so Miss H has that 

class." 

Kemper Hall stands on Lake Michigan : there 
was when the Sisters first took charge of it a great 
deal of trouble, with heavy expenses, in protect 
ing the front by a breakwater or dyke from the 
heavy waves on the shore. 

" Thanks for your note, and the account of the 



LETTERS, 125 

fearful storm. At the rate of 15 ft. a storm, how 
soon would the house go ? Can you do that sum ? 
I received a letter from the Bishop about some 
definite plan for the School, but I could not say 
anything about it until we could talk it all over; 

and besides I have a fancy for Dr. seeing the 

property ; you know he could easily manage this 
at the time of the General Convention.* . . . 
I have just heard of the death of Dr. Mul- 
ford : I think you knew he was a friend of mine. 
He was only 5 1 in years, and we thought him 
strong in body as well as strong in mind, and 
he was altogether a most charming man : you 
would have enjoyed him thoroughly, had you 
known him. As a scholar he was wonderful. I 
shall cherish his last gift to me, The Republic of 
God. " 



One who was very intimate with her writes as 
follows: 



Ever since I have known the Mother I have 
found her interested in every branch of Natural 
Science, especially, of late, in the subject of light 
and recent discoveries in that department of 
knowledge. She was glad to discuss these sub 
jects with others and eager to interest them in 
the same. It was her habit to reserve articles 
which specially pleased her, for the girls in the 
School. Just before her departure she had been 
reading Canon McColl s Life Here and Here- 

* Held in Chicago, in 1886. 



126 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

after, a book on Our Life after Death, and 
Willink s World of the Unseen. " 



A LIGHT AND A SHADOW. 



" St. Mary s, Memphis, 

" Tenn. 
" February nth. 

" To THE REV. W. C. F ., D.D. 

Rev, and Dear Sir : 

" It gives us all great pleasure to receive 
your beloved daughter, and the more so because 
of your tender letter of commendation. 

" I trust God has indeed chosen her to be 
among His special ones; the elect of the chosen, 
if one may so express it ; that is, if we may, while 
we call the whole body of the Church the Elect, 
call all Religious Orders within the Church, the 
elect of the elect. 

" I left St. Gabriel s on the evening of Thurs 
day the 3d, and will probably not be home again 
until the end of March. 

" I passed through Cleveland on Friday, and 
thought of you and yours, as the train stopped for 
a few minutes at the depot. 

" With true regards, believe me, 

" Sincerely and reverently yours, 
"^ HARRIET, 
" Mr. Supr. Com. S. M." 

(Copied by Mrs. F ). 



LETTERS. 127 

" Trinity Hospital, 
" Nov. 9th. 

My dear Sister : 

1 Will you kindly tell the Sisters with you 

that Sister M E has left the Community 

and intends joining the Roman Church. I need 
not add, that this is a trial to us all, but we will 
forgive her the wrong, and try to forget it, saying 
as little as possible of what she has done. 
" Affectionately, 

"THE MOTHER." 



IX. 
THE PASSING. 

THE voices of Nature speak directly to the 
ear of man. None, perhaps, are more ex 
pressive than those heard towards the 
declining of the day by one who, having still with 
him in the body some dearly beloved and venerated 
friend, or more than friend, reads in the sunset skies 
the presage of parting. The day going away, the 
shadows of the evening stretching out, the golden 
glory flaming in the west announce the nearness 
of the end ; near as is the end of the day, so near 
is the end of life; and, with a sudden anguish and 
a grip at the heart which only they can compre 
hend who have felt it, men realize the pain of 
separation, the shortness of the time, and the near 
ness of the hour when other words will cease in 
that last word, farewell. 

Step by step we have followed one in her 

earthly pilgrimage : it remains only to muse of 
128 



THE PASSING. 12$ 

the time and the manner of her passage from this 
scene. 

Notwithstanding the prevailing tone of cheer 
fulness in her letters, there is reason to believe 
that the last two years were full of anxiety and 
trouble. Perhaps this was to be expected, con 
sidering the wonderful growth of the Sisterhood, 
the intricacies of its business and work, the occa 
sional clashing of interests, the proceedings of 
some thoughtless and difficult members, the mis 
haps and misadventures encountered in every 
large society, and the advancing age and declin 
ing powers of its head. It is a rule of the Sister 
hood that the Superior shall be re-elected after an 
interval of three years. For several terms, the 
Mother was thus re-elected until at length the 
formality was omitted through the wish and in 
tention of her companions that she should continue 
in office all her life. Notwithstanding she often 
expressed the conviction that it might be better 
for her to withdraw, and to seek time for undis 
turbed preparation for her change: that wish was 
overruled by the Chapter, and for her the day of 
rest was put off until she was taken to it in Christ 
through the portal of the grave. 

In the spring of 1894, the Mother made her 
last visit to the South. A letter from a Sister 



130 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

now at Memphis gives a pleasant account of the 
visit. 



" During her stay with us we celebrated the 
yoth anniversary of her birth. She was as de 
lighted as a child with everything done for her 
pleasure. On the morning of her birthday the 
School children brought her a large silver tray of 
roses. There must be fifty roses here ! she 
exclaimed on receiving them. 

" There are just seventy, the little children 
replied, and Mother was delighted. On the even 
ing of the same day the Academic Classes enter 
tained the Mother with an excellent rendering 
of The Merchant of Venice. She was full of 
enthusiasm over the play, declaring to the great 
amusement of the students, that she herself could 
not have done the part of the Jew half so well. 
To which one of the children replied, We did 
not suppose, Mother, that you could have done 
the Jew" s part at all. At this the Mother laughed 
heartily. 

" As Superior General of The Guild of the 
Holy Child Jesus, she took great pleasure in the 
work of the Southern Branch of the Guild. We 
always arranged to have a reception of new mem 
bers into the Guild at the time of her visits. 
Once while viewing the long procession of beauti 
ful white-veiled children returning from the 
Cathedral to the School after their joyful musical 
service, she expressed her pleasure, commenting 
upon some special features of the service. It is 
the custom with us for the children received into 
the Guild to wear wreaths of white roses as a dis- 



THE PASSING, 131 

tinction from the other members ; and for two 
children to accompany the Cross-bearer carrying 
slender banners of white satin and gold bearing 
the words JESU King of kings and JESU 
L,ORD of lords. Mother was delighted with all 
and said to me, How little did Sister E , Sis 
ter M M and I think that the little Guild 

we organized in 1869 would grow to be anything 
so beautiful and good as this ! 

1 Mother was always lovingly interested in our 
Orphanage. " These dear little children," she 
would say, " have no one but us to look to: how 
faithful we should be to our trust ! 

Great indeed was her love for children and 
deep the interest she took in them. Here and 
there instances of this come back to us. There was 
a young child whose birthday was the same as that 
of the Reverend Mother, the yth of May. On the 
child s eighth birthday, she received a letter from 
the Mother alluding to the coincidence and say 
ing, " You are now 8, and I am 8 times 8." 
Thenceforth they always kept their birthdays to 
gether, exchanging loving greetings, till 8 more 
years had passed, when the child of 16 and the 
holy woman of 72 sent their last messages to each 
other. From the Sisters was sent to the child the 
copy of the De Imitatione, well worn by long use, 
which the Mother kept in her stall in the Chapel 
at St. Gabriel s : a treasure worth more than 



132 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

any earthly price to an appreciative and loving 
heart. 

In confirmation of the impression that the last 
years brought some special trials, the following 
letters demand insertion: 

"Jany. 31, 1895. 

" . . . . I am sorry Sister F is so out 

of health, but God knows best and we can only 
accept His will in all things. We mourned for 
our dear Sister Paula, but we know that to depart 
and be with Christ is far better ; and she is safe ; 
the turmoil is all over and the rest has come. 



" Sept. 13, 1895. 

" I have had rather a trying summer in many 
ways, but, as you know, I do not lose heart. I 
know and am sure, that all is from God, and that 
His very chastisements are tokens of His love. 
The grace of humility cannot be ours, unless we 
have humiliations. I try to obey that clause in 
our Rule * which says : Be thankful for humilia 
tion of whatever kind. " 



" St. John s Day, 1895. 

" . . . . Dear Sister, you have not been 
cross with me : I cannot write or even speak of 
the past year. I have suffered too deeply. Yea, 

* The Inner Rule must be the one referred to. 



THE PASSING. 133 

a sword shall pierce through thine own soul also. 
If our patron saint is the Mater Dolorosa, our 
tears must blend with hers. I wonder sometimes 
whether I shall ever go West and South again. 
I have entered upon my 73d year and must soon 
be laid aside. I would like to have a little quiet 
time before I go hence and be no more seen. " 

Date wanting. 

I know you are very weary and things look 
rather dark ; but as a matter of fact things are not 
really dark. God ruleth over all, and if we feel 
troubled, is it not a want of faith on our part ? 
Just think of our blessings : what are our trials 
compared to our blessings ? . . . I realize 
that the checks we receive as a Community are 
blessings in disguise. Sometimes it comes to me 
we are too worldly, do too much to please people 
outside ; so let us believe that when God speaks 
to us as He has in the events of the past summer, 
that He longs to make us all more entirely His 
own, that He would have our very best. . . . 
I am writing you a long letter, and have still 
something more to say : when the School is fairly 
in order, you must go away for a rest. This is a 
positive command; do not think it cannot be." 

Up to the very last she was actively engaged in 
the duties of her position, as actively, at least, as 
growing infirmities would permit. It was a great 
happiness to her that she lived to see the comple 
tion of the Chapel at St. Gabriel s. She insisted 



134 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

that there should be no molestful begging for it; 
no canvassing for contributions even among the 
Associates ; she wished it to be as nearly as possible 
a free-will gift and offering of love. The Mother 
made many quiet suggestions, in that mirthful 
spirit so characteristic of her, about the Chapel. 
In England nothing struck her so much as Durham 
Cathedral, and she declared that it was her desire 
and intention that the Chapel should be built on 
the model of Durham. It is not quite so large, nor 
is it calculated to remind the visitor of that struc 
ture; but it is a very beautiful Chapel, and when 
she saw it finished she might well have sung her 
Nunc Dimittis. 

The last official act of Mother Harriet was a 
visit to St. Mary s Hospital in New York, made 
some three weeks before her death, in order to 
complete the arrangements for the establishment 
of a Summer Home for Children at Norwalk, 
Conn. In 1881, through the kindness of a friend, 
land was purchased at Rockaway Beach, and a 
Seaside Home was erected there. The Reverend 
Mother was passionately fond of the ocean; for 
some years her only recreation consisted of a few 
days, now and then, at Rockaway ; some of the 
letters already transcribed for this memoir were 
written there; but she realized the fact that it 



THE PASSING. 135 

was better to abandon the place, in consequence 
of its growing disadvantages and inconveniences, 
and gladly consented to the transfer of that branch 
of the work to a new site. A lady of this city, 
widely known throughout the land for her gra 
cious acts of benevolence, gave the Sisters 31 acres 
of land, and $20,000, for a building to be erected 
at Norwalk, a property once owned by the Can 
non family, and associated in Mother Harriet s 
thoughts with recollections of her early days. 
The Home will accommodate some seventy chil 
dren, and the buildings will soon be begun. It is 
pleasant to reflect that as her ministrations of 
mercy began among the children, so they ended 
in the same tender companionship with those 
lambs of the flock of Christ, that Great Shep 
herd of the sheep. 

In the life of St. Theresa we read that, at the 
last, her one thought was, After all, I am a 
child of the Church ; and in that fact she 
stayed her hope and trust in the mercy of the 
Lord. Our dear Mother had a spirit as humble 
and reverent as that of her great exemplar, but 
she also had an almost exultant trust, a hopeful 
assurance, of the power and love which never had 
failed her, and in which she was joyful and glad. 
In her allusions to her approaching departure, 



136 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

there was a quiet and resolved confidence which 
showed supreme conviction of her safety, and 
prophesied, without presumption, the triumph 
over death. Of the dry and cold-blooded pagan 
ism which affects indifference to death, or the 
theory that it comes as a regular and legitimate 
sequence in a process fixed and ordained by 
natural law, and should therefore be accepted, or 
even welcomed with satisfaction by man of that 
pernicious philosophical opinion she knew noth 
ing save that it has no place in a Christian s con 
victions. The awe and dread of death were on 
her, as they are in all men and women of sound 
mind and just apprehension of our story and our 
doom: but the dread and awe were exorcised and 
cast out, not by any heathen speculation, but by 
the profound, the consoling, the glorious teach 
ings of Catholic Eschatology, and by the light 
which it flings in full flood on the dark valley of 
the shadow of death. Jesus Christ is He to 
whom alone man may turn for help. Nay, it 
may be asked, who so near to Jesus Christ, so 
sensible of His Presence at the last, as they who 
have left all, in the literal and exact sense of the 
word, and are, body, soul, and spirit, one with 
Him, bound by one firm purpose which has over 
thrown all resistance, and by vows which have 



THE PASSING. 137 

been kept faithfully to tlie end ? To whom shall 
we go but to Thee in Thy Life ? And where in 
death shall we go but to Thee ? 

If there was one thought above all others 
habitual with her, it was that of the shortness 
of the time and the nearness of the end. On one 
All Souls Day, when they visited the little sleep 
ing place at Peekskill and laid flowers on the 
graves, she said : " I wonder whether I shall be 
resting here on the next All Souls Day." In the 
latter year, the last of her life, when the care 
and the burden were becoming daily heavier and 
heavier, she wrote : 

I have been about writing you for some little 
time past, but somehow have not managed it : 
perhaps it was because I did not like writing about 
myself. I find myself obliged to lay down some 
laws in regard to the use of my one poor eye. I 
understand the doctor thinks a cataract is form 
ing: this may or may not be so; but I am trying 
to get used to the thought that it may be so. I 
have given up general reading, only looking over 
a book or a paper just a little; and I have deter 
mined never to use a book except in the broad 
daylight, and to get as much help as possible in 
the way of letter- writing, etc., etc. ; so if my let 
ters are few the Sisters will know the cause. It 
may be that God intends to lay me aside for 
awhile in this world before I am taken to my 
Eternal Rest. Whatever His will be, may my 
will ever be His." 



138 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

On occasion of another severe attack of illness 
toward the end, she wrote : 

I suppose you know why there has been no 
word from me all through our great Feast.* 
. . . I was obliged to succumb and have the 
doctor sent for. Well, he kept me a prisoner in 
my bed for nine whole days with no privileges ; 
however, on the Octave Day I was allowed to be 
in the ante-chapel and make my communion, and 
I had the benefit of Second Vespers; but I am 
still in some sense a prisoner. I am allowed to be 
in my office for a time, and do some work, and to 
have my meals served me there, but I am not yet 
allowed to go down to the Refectory or the Com 
munity room. I know that it is necessary to be 
careful. The doctor feared that the inflammation 
would extend to the other lung, but it did not. 
I suppose I shall not be permitted to go to the 
city for some little time yet. There ! a long 
letter all about myself ! 

But why put off saying what now must follow ? 
It was near the end of Lent, in the year 1896; 
those weeks were at hand when the faithful watch 
Christ in His Passion, accompanying Him, step 
by step, on His way forth from this troubled 
world. Now, at the time more fit for the purpose 
than any other, the devout Religious at St. Ga 
briel s were called to watch the departure of their 

* Referring to the Purification and its Octave. 



THE PASSING. 139 

beloved head from their company and her transit 
to the royal land of flowers and light. Every 
thing seems to have been ordered by those higher 
intelligences to whom is committed the care of the 
children of Our Lord ; and great is the peace 
which fills the soul when we observe how all was 
brought about to that end. 

No one was anticipating what occurred : it 
came suddenly and without warning. The 
Mother had been as well as usual, bright, and 
like herself, as one who might yet see many years. 
On Passion Sunday, March 22d, 1896, she was in 
the Chapel for the last time. The Rev. Dr. 
Riley, of the General Theological Seminary, had 
been conducting a Retreat : in his last meditation 
on the Love of God in our glorification, he had 
dwelt much on the life after death. The follow 
ing Monday the Mother spoke to one of the Sis 
ters on the subject, and told her what a rest and 
refreshment the Retreat had been to her, and 
what a pleasure it had been to receive more light 
on the subjects on which her mind had been 
dwelling of late ; adding that she felt as though 
she had had a glimpse into the unseen world, 
that the cares then pressing on her were lightened 
and easier to bear, or rather that she felt lifted 
above them. She went on to speak of the points 



I4O MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

in the meditation which had chiefly impressed her; 
and then she said: I have been thinking a great 
deal of late about death and what it will mean to 
me personally ; but I cannot make it real ; I 
don t know at all how I shall feel when I know 
that I am to die." 

That day she felt very tired and had a cold, but 
she was up part of the day. On Tuesday they 
wanted her to see the physician, but she refused, 
saying that she would soon be better and hoped 
to be quite well for Holy Week. On Wednesday, 
she was worse and consented to see .the doctor ; 
apologizing to him for putting off sending for him 
on th*e ground that he had so many demands on 
his time and she did not wish to add one care 
more. He pronounced it a case of acute bron 
chitis, and seemed hopeful. 

She was apparently comfortable during the re 
mainder of Passion Week; quiet, and, as usual, 
deeply interested in school affairs, enquiring 
every morning about the girls, and particularly 
about two of the number in whom she was much 
occupied in thought about that time. 

On Saturday a change occurred : it was pneu 
monia. When told so, she said : "I wonder if 
the Master has come for me ; and soon after 
she added, I think God will ask me to give up 



THE PASSING, 141 

going to the Chapel in Holy Week. I have 
never missed the Night Offices before ; all of Lent 
I have been hoping that I could fully keep Holy 
Week." 

Palm Sunday came ; and in the morning she 
told the Sister who had been with her constantly 
to leave her for a while, get her palm, and make 
her communion ; which she did. On returning 
she brought with her a palm for the Mother, and 
as she saw it placed over the picture of St. The 
resa which always hung in her room, her eyes 
filled with tears, and she said : " It is the first 
time I have missed the Palm Service, adding, a 
few moments afterwards : " It is the will of 
God." When reminded that this was perhaps 
intended as her special L,enten discipline, she 
said : Yes, this may be the Cross our dear Mas 
ter wishes me to carry for Him and it is a very 
real one." The next day, when told that the 
Sisters were saying The Way of the Cross, she 
replied : "I too am saying the Way of the 
Cross." 

During Holy Week the Mother took very little 
notice of what was going on ; she suffered much 
from restlessness, and asked not to be left alone, 
as she had troubled dreams and saw strange and 
dark things when she closed her eyes: she seemed 



142 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

however to suffer little pain. Her frequent re 
quest was for " water fresh from the well." On 
Maundy Thursday she received the Blessed Sac 
rament. It was brought to her from the Chapel; 
she had followed the service exactly and was told 
when the priest was beginning the Canon. After 
reception she remained perfectly calm and peace 
ful, murmuring to herself: " I am waiting; the 
Master has been served. 

Often during those last hours she was heard to 
be saying, as if secretly : " Light, Emblem of 
Life"; and " Dear Master" ; and again, " He 
leadeth and guideth me," and " obedient unto 
death." On Thursday night she said aloud : 
" They are calling me," but gave no expla 
nation. 

On Good Friday when a very dear friend came 
from New York to see her, she rallied somewhat, 
roused herself and recognized him. Then uncon 
sciousness returned : but it was felt by those who 
watched by her that it was only toward the side 
of earth, that this was a special preparation for 
the life beyond, and that already in heart and 
mind she had entered the world of the Unseen. 

On Easter Even the Blessed Sacrament was ad 
ministered to her for the last time. 

On Easter Day after Matins in the Church, the 



THE PASSING. 143 

priest came and said the Commendatory Prayer : 
while he was doing so she fixed her eyes upon 
him and evidently knew what was going on. 
Thus the hours passed, until about 3 o clock P.M. 
the Sisters were summoned and knelt about her. 
It was just before the hour of None. One of the 
Sisters was reading the Gradual Psalms, the rest 
responding. The Chapel bell rang out the ninth 
hour of the day. The Mother heard it, opened 
her eyes wide, and seemed to be looking into the 
other world. Then slightly lifting her hands, 
while the final prayers were said, she breathed 
out her soul without a struggle, and was with her 
Master. 

On Thursday in Easter Week the body was 
reverently laid to rest. It is unnecessary to say 
more than has been already said in the Prelude 
about the scenes in the Chapel and the Cemetery 
that day. An account of the funeral services, the 
only one authorized by the Sisters, has been pub 
lished as an appendix to a sermon preached by 
the Chaplain of the School on L/ow Sunday.* To 

* Faith through Love. A sermon preached in St. 
Mary s Chapel, Peekskill, New York, on Low Sunday, 
1896, being the first Sunday after the Burial of Sister 
Harriet, Foundress of the "Sisterhood of St. Mary, New 



144 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

that account the reader is referred. L,et me add 
but one thing : the hymn, a favourite of hers, 
which was sung as the priests who acted as bear 
ers took the bier from the choir, and bore it away 
to the cemetery. 

THE RETURN HOME. 

" Safe Home! Safe home in port! 

Rent cordage, shattered deck, 
Torn sails, provisions short, 

And only not a wreck ; 
But oh, the joy upon the shore, 
To tell our voyage perils o er! 

The prize, the prize secure ! 

The athlete nearly fell; 
Bare all he could endure, 

And bare not always well: 
But he may smile at troubles gone 
Who puts the victor-garland on ! 

" The lamb is in the fold 

In perfect safety penn d; 
The lion once had hold, 

And thought to make an end. 
But One came by with wounded side, 
And for the sheep the Shepherd died. 

York," and for thirty-two years its Mother Superior. By 
the Rev. Arthur Lowndes, D.D. To which is added an 
authorized account of the Funeral Services on the Thurs 
day in Easter Week. New York, James Pott & Co., 
Publishers, Fourth Avenue and 22d St. 1896. 



THE PASSING. 145 

No more the foe can harm : 

No more of leaguer d camp, 
And cry of night alarm, 

And need of ready lamp : 
And yet how nearly had he failed, 
How nearly had that foe prevail d ! 

The exile is at home ! 

Oh, nights and days of tears, 
Oh, longings not to roam, 

Oh, sins and doubts and fears, 
What matter now, when (so men say) 
The King has wip d those tears away ? 

O happy, happy Bride ! 

Thy widow d hours are past, 
The Bridegroom at thy side, 

Thou all His Own at last! 
The sorrows of thy former cup 
In full fruition swallow d up! " 



FAC CUM SANCTIS Tins IN 
NUMERARI. 



CONCLUSION. 

MY task is completed; and now, with a full 
knowledge of its unworthiness and imper 
fections, her old friend reverently lays 
this offering upon that grave wherein her mortal 
body is sleeping in peace. It has been a help and 
a relief to spend so much time during the past 
summer in this communing with the holy dead. 
These pages were written in part by the sea-shore 
where the grey Atlantic spreads its waste of 
waters, often veiled in fog and mist, and still beat 
ing out their perpetual chime against the grassy 
dunes; in part on the banks of the lovely St. Regis 
lake, where the tall pines lift their solemn shafts 
and foliage to the sky, and the mountains, chang 
ing with every hour, announce, as of old, the right 
eousness of the Eternal. In either place, there was 
pause from the confusing nosies and uproar of 
these troubled and anxious months; brief respite 
from the din made by the enemies to our peace 
and to the good order of society, the noisy orator, 
the political agitator, the stirrer of strife among 

brethren, the new woman of the period, the proph- 
146 



CONCLUSION, 147 

ets of evil, and those who deem it their mission 
to upset, subvert, and destroy the landmarks set by 
our fathers. When the world seems in throes, as 
about to bring forth one knows not what new and 
monstrous progeny, and when the hearts of men 
are failing them for fear and for looking for those 
things which are coming on the earth ; it may be 
counted a privilege beyond estimate to have been 
drawn, either by the sense of obligation or by the 
strength of a deep attachment, or in any other 
way, to lengthened communion with an unworldly 
and exalted soul, to have been permitted to watch 
a star of God shining more and more unto the 
perfect day; and while musing of a life rooted 
and grounded in love, strong in reverence for the 
things eternal, devoted to God, and liberally 
provident of the best gifts that can be had here 
below, to have forgotten meanwhile, or ceased to 
observe that there are anywhere about us persons 
without religion and without grace, whose lives 
are led outside the Kingdom, the centre of whose 
thoughts, desires, and hopes is in a world which 
decays and is ready to vanish away. And now, 
gentle reader, that we have meditated together on 
this precious story, let it be asked, whether we 
can do anything to express gratitude and appre 
ciation, if the narrative has awakened them with- 



148 MEMOIR OF MOTHER HARRIET. 

in our spirit ? What permanent memorial should 
there be of the first Mother Superior of the largest 
of our American Sisterhoods ? I^et this sugges 
tion be made : that, by many offerings of love, 
from many warm hearts and many hands, there 
be erected in time on the place where she dwelt 
and where her body rests, a Mother House, apt 
and meet in all respects to be the dwelling of the 
Community. Let us arise and build, to the glory 
of God and to the memory of His devoted daugh 
ter. Perhaps this little narrative may meet the 
eye of some woman whose heart is in the world, 
whose life has little else to show but a round of 
self-seeking and amusement in society. Were it 
not well for her to look on such a life as this, and 
by some timely offering establish a sympathetic 
relation with one, side by side with whom she 
must finally meet her Judge ? It is possible that 
these pages may be read by some one of the 
women of the advanced school, who, doubtless 
with an intention which seems to them to justify 
that course, devote their best power to the demo 
lition of that ideal of womanhood, which only, 
thus far, has helped and blessed the world? 
Might not the heart of such a one be reached and 
softened, by seeing what good was done by a great, 
earnest, loving spirit working on the old lines, 



CONCLUSION. 149 

true to that womanly model which we reverence 
in the Church and honour with all but adoring 
love" in the Blessed Mother of our Lord Jesus 
Christ ? Howsoever it be, let us arise, bring pres 
ents, and offer gifts. It is memorable, and as true 
as strange, that not one woman rich in this 
world s goods has ever cast in her lot with this 
Community : their recruits have come from the 
ranks of those who were rich in faith alone. It 
is time that others in a different position recog 
nize a privilege here which, once seen, will be 
gladly acknowledged. Great as was the work of 
their first Mother Superior, we trust that the Sis 
terhood of St. Mary are to see greater things than 
these, and that the light now shining in their 
houses shall shine more and more for many gen 
erations after we have vanished from sight. 



JR1NITV -, ! . HOUSE 



BX 5995 C23D5 1896 TRIN 

Dix, Morgan, 

Harriet Starr Cannon 141299 



BX 5995 C23D5 
Dix, Morgan, 
Harriet Starr 



1896 TRIN 
Cannon 141299